Former President George W. Bush mourned the death of GOP senator and war hero John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE (Ariz.) on Saturday night.
“Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. It is hard to think of them stilled, ” Bush wrote in a statement.
“John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order. He was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country. And to me, he was a friend whom I’ll deeply miss,” he continued.
The former commander-in-chief and first lady Laura Bush also extended their “heartfelt sympathies” to Cindy McCain and the couple’s children.
“Thanks to God for the life of John McCain,” Bush added.
McCain survived years as a political of war in Vietnam before becoming a leading actor in the Senate.
He later challenged Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2001 and earned a reputation as a friend of reporters on the campaign bus.
Bush’s daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, also honored McCain on Twitter Saturday by sharing a memory from when the two men participated in a Republican debate.
“I will never forget a debate in Arizona, where Sen McCain spent the evening joking with Barbara and me,” she wrote. “We were nervous for our dad, he felt it and he was kind. In the cold world of politics, he was a bright light. Prayers to his family.”
McCain ultimately lost the nomination, but discovered his political brand: party maverick.
McCain backed Bush on the Iraq War although he voted against Bush tax cuts and backed campaign finance legislation many Republicans opposed.
McCain later began the GOP frontrunner to succeed Bush during the 2008 presidential campaign against Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden celebrates start of Hanukkah The massive messaging miscues of all the president's men (and women) 'Car guy' Biden puts his spin on the presidency MORE.
It was reported earlier this year that Bush and Obama were expected to deliver eulogies at McCain’s funeral.
Those close to McCain have informed the White House that they plan to have Vice President Pence attend the senator's funeral — but not President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE.
McCain died one day after his family announced that he would be discontinuing medical treatment for brain cancer.
He was diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma in July 2017 and because the “progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age” had rendered “their verdict."