Tributes pour in for John McCain

Tributes pour in for John McCain
© Getty

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainVeterans group to hand out USS John McCain T-shirts for July 4 on the National Mall Will we ever have another veteran as president? Meghan McCain clashes with Joy Behar as the 'sacrificial Republican' on 'The View' MORE’s (R-Ariz.) death reverberated across Washington and the U.S. as current and former lawmakers on both sides of the aisle praised the longtime senator’s character and decades-long political career on the Sunday news shows circuit.

“He really understood in the marrow of his bones what it meant to be an American,” Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate Trump says he's not prepared to lose in 2020 MORE, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Clinton served in the Senate with McCain for eight years beginning in 2001.

McCain died Saturday at 81 after battling an aggressive form of brain cancer. News of his death prompted an outpouring of tributes Saturday night that continued into Sunday morning as the senator's friends and colleagues took to social media and the Sunday talk shows to honor McCain.

ADVERTISEMENT

McCain was praised by Democrats and Republicans alike for his readiness to put country over party during his more than 30 years in the Senate.

"He knew that the Senate couldn't work if we didn't work together," Clinton said.

McCain memorably broke with his party, casting the decisive vote last year to kill Senate Republicans' effort to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMaine House speaker announces challenge to Collins Senate seat GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE (R-Maine) said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that McCain was struggling with his vote when she and Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Overnight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial The 7 GOP senators who voted to block all or part of Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (Alaska), the other two Republican senators to vote against the repeal, approached him on the Senate floor to discuss his vote.

Suddenly, Collins said, McCain pointed to her and Murkowski and said, “You two are right.”

Vice President Pence tried to lobby McCain to vote yes, but Collins said she knew McCain had made his decision.

“Once John McCain made up his mind about something, there was no shaking him,” Collins said. “And I knew he would be there on the final vote. And again it was an example of his determination to do what he thought was right.”

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinCongress unlikely to reach deal on Trump border bill before break Democrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on Biden attacks Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds MORE (D-Ill.) paid tribute to what he called McCain’s “uncommon decency.”

The Democratic senator pointed to moments such as McCain's famous defense of then-candidate Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden, Eastland and rejecting the cult of civility Biden lays out immigration priorities, rips Trump for 'assault on dignity' Democrats not keen to reignite Jerusalem embassy fight MORE against a racist conspiracy theory on the 2008 campaign trail and the GOP senator's condemnation of white supremacists rallying in Charlottesville, Va., something which President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE did not do.

“I remember those moments of uncommon decency, which is unfortunately on short supply in the American political scene,” Durbin said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Durbin took a swipe at Trump while honoring McCain, saying that the senator handled Trump's attacks on him "with such class."

"I think he knew that the enduring legacy of his service to our country, along with so many other veterans, was going to prevail over those harsh and nasty words by President Trump," he added.

Trump had frequently lashed out at McCain since his days on the campaign trail. Shortly after announcing his candidacy, Trump mocked McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War, denying that McCain is a war hero and saying he likes “people who weren’t captured.”

Trump mocked McCain as recently as June, attacking him for his “no” vote on the ObamaCare repeal at a GOP rally in Nevada. McCain, at the time, had been absent from the Senate amid his fight with brain cancer.

McCain's fellow GOP Arizona senator, Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeJeff Flake becoming Harvard fellow Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE, said on "State of the Union" that McCain’s voice in the Senate was “never more important than the past year.”

“I think we could do with this kind of approach to politics and we’d do well to remember John McCain and his legacy as we go forward,” Flake said when pressed by CNN host Jake Tapper on whether Trump’s presidency made voices like McCain's more necessary. “I know that’s what he would like.”

Former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) echoed Flake on "State of the Union," saying McCain's death was a "calling for more decency."

“The thing I think about today is John and I hope that his passing is a calling for more decency, integrity and honor in our politics because that’s what John stood for and that’s really what his legacy is,” Ayotte said.

McCain’s death on Saturday came one day after his family announced Friday their decision to discontinue medical treatment, stating the “progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age” had rendered “their verdict.”

The news prompted an outpouring of tribute and sympathy from those across the political spectrum.

Shortly after the announcement, Democratic Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell-backed Super PAC says nominating Roy Moore would be 'gift wrapping' seat to Dems McConnell vows to 'vigorously' oppose Moore's Senate bid Pelosi: Trump delay on Harriet Tubman is 'an insult to the hopes of millions' MORE (N.Y.), announced his intentions to propose a resolution that would rename the Senate’s Russell office building after McCain.

Flake said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he wants to be the first Republican co-sponsor of that resolution, calling it a “fitting tribute.” 

Senate Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThis week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Judd Gregg: An Irish friend and wisdom Juan Williams: Warren on the rise MORE (D-Calif.) on Sunday echoed Flake’s comments, saying on ABC’s "This Week" that Schumer’s proposal “would be a great tribute.”

“Because then for decades to come, everyone who came to Washington would know the very special place that John McCain held — has held and will continue to hold in our country,” she said.