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

Former President George W. Bush praised Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainColbert mocks Gaetz after Trump denies he asked for a pardon Five reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Meghan McCain calls on Gaetz to resign 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.


"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 TrumpHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Man arrested for allegedly threatening to stab undercover Asian officer in NYC Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech MORE, who bitterly battled with McCain during the 2016 campaign and his first year in office, was not invited, though his daughter Ivanka TrumpIvanka TrumpFour players lead Florida's golden age of Republican dominance GAO hammers Ivanka Trump's policy program Trump makes appearance at Mar-a-Lago dog rescue fundraiser MORE and son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump in talks to partner with apps to create social media network: report Colin Kahl's nomination will be a disaster for Israel and the region The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - What's happening on the US border MORE attended the service.