Dole calls McCain ‘my friend and my hero’
© Greg Nash

Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas) reflected on his relationship with the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Arizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ MORE (R-Ariz.), calling the Senate icon "my friend and my hero" in an interview with CNN late Saturday.

"I was his leader for 10 years when he first came to the Senate, and then I left in '96, but we had a special relationship," Dole said. "I think we were the only two Republicans with a pretty bad disability."

McCain, who will be buried Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy, was held prisoner in Hanoi, Vietnam, for roughly five years. As a result of his injuries, McCain was unable to raise his arms above his head.

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Dole, who attended a memorial on Saturday for McCain at the National Cathedral, received several awards for his service in World War II, which left his right arm permanently disabled and his left arm significantly disabled.

Dole told CNN that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE "made a mistake" when he said during the 2016 presidential campaign that McCain was not a war hero because he was captured.

"He's the only one in America, probably, who thought that way, but John didn't want him to come to the funeral, so he said nice things and stayed away," Dole said.

Dole was among dozens of current and former officials from both political parties who attended Saturday's memorial service for McCain. Former Presidents Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states Ford taps Obama, Clinton alum to navigate Senate hearing MORE and George W. Bush delivered eulogies at the event, while Trump visited his golf course.

McCain died on Aug. 25 at age 81 after a yearlong battle with brain cancer. Even after he returned to Arizona for treatment, McCain remained one of Trump's sharpest critics.

Trump endured criticism last week after he waited to issue a proclamation recognizing McCain's death and ordering flags be lowered to half-staff. He eventually issued a statement expressing "respect" for the late senator's service.