FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2009 file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., holds a healthcare town hall meeting in Sun City, Ariz. McCain’s family says the Arizona senator has chosen to discontinue medical treatment for brain cancer. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Presidents, lawmakers honour John McCain’s life of service

Everyone from Barack Obama to Justin Trudeau spoke out

Presidents and lawmakers from both parties honoured Sen. John McCain’s decades of service to his country in the hours after his death Saturday. President Donald Trump, who once criticized McCain for being taken prisoner during the Vietnam War, said his “deepest sympathies and respect” went out to McCain’s family.

McCain, 81, died at his ranch in Arizona after a yearlong battle with brain cancer. On Saturday night, a black hearse accompanied by a police motorcade could be seen driving away from the ranch near Sedona where the Republican senator spent his final weeks.

Trump’s brief Twitter statement said “hearts and prayers” are with the McCain family. First lady Melania Trump thanked McCain for his service to the nation, which included more than five years as a prisoner of war and six terms in the Senate.

Trump and McCain were at odds until the end. The president, who mocked McCain’s capture in Vietnam during the 2016 campaign, jabbed at the senator even after his illness for voting against Republican efforts to roll back President Barack Obama’s health care law. Earlier this summer, McCain issued a blistering statement criticizing Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

READ MORE: McCain irrelevant, ‘He’s Dying Anyway,’ White House aide reportedly says

Former presidents, including those who blocked McCain’s own White House ambitions, offered emotional tributes.

Obama, who triumphed over McCain in the 2008 election, said that despite their differences, McCain and he shared a “fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.”

Obama said the two political opponents “saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world.”

Former President George W. Bush, who defeated McCain for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, called his one-time political rival “man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order” and a “friend whom I’ll deeply miss.”

McCain was the son and grandson of admirals and followed them to the U.S. Naval Academy. A pilot, he was shot down over Vietnam and held as a prisoner of war for more than five years. He went on to win a seat in the House and in 1986, the Senate, where he served for the rest of his life.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called McCain a “fascinating personality.”

“He would occasionally be in a bad place with various members, including myself, and when this would blow over it was like nothing ever happened,” McConnell said Saturday after a GOP state dinner in Lexington, Kentucky. “He also had a wicked sense of humour and it made every tense moment come out better.”

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, who developed a friendship with McCain while they served together in the Senate, said the Arizona lawmaker will “cast a long shadow.”

“The spirit that drove him was never extinguished: we are here to commit ourselves to something bigger than ourselves,” Biden said

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on Twitter that McCain was an American patriot and hero whose sacrifices for his country, and lifetime of public service, were an inspiration to millions.

Conservative party Leader Andrew Scheer praised McCain on Twitter, writing his decades of service in defence of freedom crossed party lines and touched freedom-loving people across borders.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper also expressed his sympathies, calling McCain an American hero, while former Progressive Conservative party leader Peter MacKay tweeted that freedom loving people everywhere are mourning the heartbreaking loss of a true voice for integrity and civility.

McCain was a war veteran who was captured in North Vietnam in 1967 and endured years of torture and abuse.

He died on Saturday after battling brain cancer for more than a year.

McCain is expected to be remembered in Arizona and Washington before being buried, likely this week, at the Naval Academy Cemetery on a peninsula overlooking the Severn River.

Other plans were taking shape, too. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced that he wants to name the Senate building that housed McCain’s suite of offices after the Arizona senator, who served as chairman of the Commerce Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“As you go through life, you meet few truly great people. John McCain was one of them,” Schumer said. “Maybe most of all, he was a truth teller – never afraid to speak truth to power in an era where that has become all too rare.”

Laurie Kellman, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Changes at school district prompt disharmony over music program

Former School District #83 superintendent calls for independent review

Police in Vernon catch suspects after armed robbery in Salmon Arm

Victims told police they were robbed at knife point near an ATM

Salmon Arm mayor proposes plastic bag ban for new year

Legislation to be introduced with rollout of curbside collection of organics in July

Mother of missing Shuswap woman holds out hope she’ll be found

Nicole Bell’s mom urges public to report any information that might help

In Photos: Salmon Arm pays respect at Remembrance Day ceremony

Veterans and cadets, community groups and other residents gathered at the Salmon… Continue reading

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Kuhnhackl scores 2 odd goals as Isles dump Canucks 5-2

Vancouver drops second game in two nights

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Letters shed light on state of mind of B.C. mom accused of daughter’s murder

Trial of South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone begins in BC Supreme Court

Most Read