Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., longtime friend of the late Sen. John McCain, said among the Arizonan’s last words to him were, “I have not been cheated.”
McCain died Saturday at his home near Sedona, Arizona at the age of 81 after a year-long battle with brain cancer.
“He had a romantic view of our nation until his last breath,” Graham said on NBC’s “Today” show. “Literally almost the last thing he said to me was, ‘I love you. I have not been cheated.'”
“He was not cheated,” Graham added.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 28, 2018
In a farewell message from McCain read by close friend and former presidential campaign manager Rick Davis, the Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war said he felt like he had lived ten lives.
“I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it,” McCain said. “I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for 10 satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s.”
“Today” show co-host Craig Melvin asked Graham to discuss the contentious relationship between McCain and President Donald Trump.
Graham said that was all over now, and the president had gotten to the right place in terms of honoring McCain’s service to the country.
“John Kelly, (the White House) chief of staff has been terrific,” Graham said. “The president told Gen. Kelly whatever they need, they get,” referring to the McCain family.
He added that Trump was “not the only person to have a tense relationship with John McCain.”
“Today” co-host Savannah Guthrie questioned Graham about the split between the South Carolinian and his mentor and friend in terms of the support they have offered to Trump.
“I don’t have the luxury of pretending like Donald Trump’s not president,” Graham said. “I do want to help him, I want to be a bridge where I can.”
“Sen. McCain never got mad at you about that?” Guthrie asked Graham.
“Oh, no,” he replied. “It wouldn’t have mattered. I’d have done it anyway. I’m too much like him.”
“The bottom line is, John has shown that it’s not about you,” Graham added. “Country first means that, even if it’s inconvenient for you and it makes you uncomfortable, you do it anyway. Country first hurts, but it’s the right way to go.”
Trump received criticism in the media for failing to mention McCain’s service to the country in a tweet offering condolences to his family on Saturday.
However, on Monday, the White House issued a statement from the president, which read in part, “Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Sen. John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment.”
Trump offered similar sentiments at a dinner for evangelical leaders at the White House on Monday night.
"We very much appreciate everything Senator McCain has done for our country," President Trump giving his first comments on the passing of McCain during the White House dinner with evangelical leaders. pic.twitter.com/w79QOjIy0Y
— The National Desk (@TND) August 28, 2018
McCain reportedly did not want Trump to attend his funeral.
Trump said that Vice President Mike Pence will speak at a ceremony Friday at the U.S. Capitol honoring McCain.
The commander in chief added that White House chief of staff John Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and national security adviser John Bolton have been asked to represent the administration at services for McCain.
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