Tributes pour in for John McCain

Tributes pour in for John McCain
© Getty

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcSally says current Senate should vote on Trump nominee Say what you will about the presidential candidates, as long as it isn't 'They're too old' The electoral reality that the media ignores 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 ClintonWhat Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Bipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Trump carries on with rally, unaware of Ginsburg's death 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 CollinsSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg Democratic senator calls for eliminating filibuster, expanding Supreme Court if GOP fills vacancy What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies 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 MurkowskiSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies McConnell says Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote 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 DurbinMcConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled Senate Republicans signal openness to working with Biden Top GOP senator calls for Biden to release list of possible Supreme Court picks 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 ObamaObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Senate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg Cruz: Trump should nominate a Supreme Court justice next week 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 TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy 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 FlakeRepublican former Michigan governor says he's voting for Biden Maybe they just don't like cowboys: The president is successful, some just don't like his style Bush endorsing Biden? Don't hold your breath 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 SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg Ginsburg in statement before her death said she wished not to be replaced until next president is sworn in Democrats call for NRA Foundation to be prohibited from receiving donations from federal employees 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 PelosiPelosi: Ginsburg successor must uphold commitment to 'equality, opportunity and justice for all' Bipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Pelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg 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.