Biden at Sen. John Warner’s funeral: He ‘gave me confidence’
President Biden memorialized the late Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) on Wednesday, recalling the day the late lawmaker endorsed of him for president in the 2020 election.
“As we say in the Senate, ‘excuse me a point of personal privilege.’ When John endorsed me for president last year, it carried an extra meaning for me,” Biden said at the senator’s funeral Wednesday morning. “It wasn’t merely that a prominent Republican endorsed me. When John endorsed me, it gave me confidence, not about winning, about being able to do the job. John gave me confidence.”
The president delivered remarks at the Washington National Cathedral for Warner, who died on May 25 at the age of 94. Biden and Warner served in the Senate together for three decades.
“The battle of the soul of America today, John Warner is a reminder of what we can do when we come together as one nation,” Biden said.
Warner served in Congress from 1979 to 2009 and was a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Biden touted his service in the Navy in World War II and called him a man of “conscience, character and honor.”
“He understood democracy is more than a form of government, democracy is a way of being. He understood it begins and grows in an open heart and a willingness to work across the aisle and come together in a common cause and that empathy, empathy is the fuel of democracy,” Biden said.
The president noted Warner’s ability to forge consensus in the Senate and make sure the system worked in Congress. He also mentioned Warner’s stance opposing torture, ending gun violence and protecting the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.
He added that Warner “understood the job of senator was bigger than himself” and emphasized his love for the state of Virginia.
Reciting the words to the song “American Anthem,” the president quoted the familiar line, “America, I gave my best to you.”
“John Warner gave his best to America and, to the best of my knowledge, everybody he has a relationship with,” Biden said.
Biden also directed comforting words to Warner’s family.
He is survived by his wife, Jeanne, and three children: Mary, Virginia and John.
“The Bible teaches, blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Comfort can be a long time in coming. I promise you, it will come. It will give you purpose in his memory and his love for you and his love for this country,” he said.
Biden was seated at the cathedral with first lady Jill Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Paul Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Elaine Chao and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
His speech was followed by tributes from retired U.S. Navy Admiral Michael Mullen and Virginia Sens. Mark Warner (D) and Tim Kaine (D).