Bush: McCain could not stand 'bigots and swaggering despots'
© Getty

Former President George W. Bush praised Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain to produce 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Meghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' MORE's (R-Ariz.) disdain for authoritarian leaders on Saturday during a funeral service for the late senator at the Washington National Cathedral.

Bush told a crowd of various public figures and lawmakers that McCain, who died last week at the age of 81 from brain cancer, "detested the abuse of power" both at home and abroad.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Above all, John detested the abuse of power. He could not abide bigots and swaggering despots," Bush said before recounting a story from McCain's days at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where he will be buried Sunday.

"One friend from his Naval Academy days recalled how John, while a lowly plebe, reacted to seeing an upperclassman verbally abuse a steward. Against all tradition, he told the jerk to pick on someone his own size. It was a familiar refrain during his six decades of service," Bush said.

Bush continued in his eulogy, remembering McCain's honesty, even toward leaders in the White House, and his penchant for standing up for those without political power.

“There was something deep inside him that made him stand up for the little guy," Bush said. "He was honest no matter whom it offended. Presidents were not spared."

"He respected the dignity inherent in every life — a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators," the former president added.

Bush joined other top Republicans and Democrats, including former President Obama, on Saturday for McCain's memorial service alongside three former vice presidents.

President TrumpDonald TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE, who bitterly battled with McCain during the 2016 campaign and his first year in office, was not invited, though his daughter Ivanka TrumpIvanka TrumpKushner launching investment firm in move away from politics: report Washington Post calls on Democrats to subpoena Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Meadows for testimony on Jan. 6 Jill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics MORE and son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBlack community group loses bid to acquire downtown LA Mall despite highest offer Kushner launching investment firm in move away from politics: report Washington Post calls on Democrats to subpoena Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Meadows for testimony on Jan. 6 MORE attended the service.