Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidAfter healthcare fail, 4 ways to revise conservative playbook Dem senator: 'Not inclined to filibuster' Gorsuch This obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all MORE (D-Nev.) praised McCain as the key deal-maker in the matter.

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McCain has been taking more of a leadership-like role in the Senate lately, working to avert the so-called "nuclear option" on presidential nominees and pairing up with Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerCould Trump and the Democrats make 'ObamaCare Lite' any lighter? A Justice Gorsuch will defend religious Americans from persecution Dem to Trump: 'You truly are an evil man' MORE (D-N.Y.) and the Gang of Eight to successfully pass immigration reform.

But the longtime senator, who was his party's presidential nominee in 2008, was quick to say he wasn't usurping his party's leaders.

“I don't mean to replace the leadership — usurp it in anyway,” he said, adding “I'm just there to help.”

He said he talked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThis week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat The Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over healthcare GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Ky.) several times over the weekend as he worked with Reid on negotiations.

“He was encouraging me. He wanted to get this done,” McCain said.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamRepublicans giving Univision the cold shoulder: report Graham: 'I'm glad' Ivanka will be working in the White House Trump tweets promotion for Fox News show MORE (R-S.C.), one of McCain's closest friends in the upper chamber, said the Arizona lawmaker was helping out because he “really loves the institution.”

“I think John looks long-term in terms of the Senate. I think he's trying to keep the Senate the way he found it,” Graham said.