FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2009 file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., holds a healthcare town hall meeting in Sun City, Ariz. McCain’s family says the Arizona senator has chosen to discontinue medical treatment for brain cancer. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Presidents, lawmakers honour John McCain’s life of service

Everyone from Barack Obama to Justin Trudeau spoke out

Presidents and lawmakers from both parties honoured Sen. John McCain’s decades of service to his country in the hours after his death Saturday. President Donald Trump, who once criticized McCain for being taken prisoner during the Vietnam War, said his “deepest sympathies and respect” went out to McCain’s family.

McCain, 81, died at his ranch in Arizona after a yearlong battle with brain cancer. On Saturday night, a black hearse accompanied by a police motorcade could be seen driving away from the ranch near Sedona where the Republican senator spent his final weeks.

Trump’s brief Twitter statement said “hearts and prayers” are with the McCain family. First lady Melania Trump thanked McCain for his service to the nation, which included more than five years as a prisoner of war and six terms in the Senate.

Trump and McCain were at odds until the end. The president, who mocked McCain’s capture in Vietnam during the 2016 campaign, jabbed at the senator even after his illness for voting against Republican efforts to roll back President Barack Obama’s health care law. Earlier this summer, McCain issued a blistering statement criticizing Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

READ MORE: McCain irrelevant, ‘He’s Dying Anyway,’ White House aide reportedly says

Former presidents, including those who blocked McCain’s own White House ambitions, offered emotional tributes.

Obama, who triumphed over McCain in the 2008 election, said that despite their differences, McCain and he shared a “fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.”

Obama said the two political opponents “saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world.”

Former President George W. Bush, who defeated McCain for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, called his one-time political rival “man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order” and a “friend whom I’ll deeply miss.”

McCain was the son and grandson of admirals and followed them to the U.S. Naval Academy. A pilot, he was shot down over Vietnam and held as a prisoner of war for more than five years. He went on to win a seat in the House and in 1986, the Senate, where he served for the rest of his life.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called McCain a “fascinating personality.”

“He would occasionally be in a bad place with various members, including myself, and when this would blow over it was like nothing ever happened,” McConnell said Saturday after a GOP state dinner in Lexington, Kentucky. “He also had a wicked sense of humour and it made every tense moment come out better.”

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, who developed a friendship with McCain while they served together in the Senate, said the Arizona lawmaker will “cast a long shadow.”

“The spirit that drove him was never extinguished: we are here to commit ourselves to something bigger than ourselves,” Biden said

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on Twitter that McCain was an American patriot and hero whose sacrifices for his country, and lifetime of public service, were an inspiration to millions.

Conservative party Leader Andrew Scheer praised McCain on Twitter, writing his decades of service in defence of freedom crossed party lines and touched freedom-loving people across borders.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper also expressed his sympathies, calling McCain an American hero, while former Progressive Conservative party leader Peter MacKay tweeted that freedom loving people everywhere are mourning the heartbreaking loss of a true voice for integrity and civility.

McCain was a war veteran who was captured in North Vietnam in 1967 and endured years of torture and abuse.

He died on Saturday after battling brain cancer for more than a year.

McCain is expected to be remembered in Arizona and Washington before being buried, likely this week, at the Naval Academy Cemetery on a peninsula overlooking the Severn River.

Other plans were taking shape, too. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced that he wants to name the Senate building that housed McCain’s suite of offices after the Arizona senator, who served as chairman of the Commerce Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“As you go through life, you meet few truly great people. John McCain was one of them,” Schumer said. “Maybe most of all, he was a truth teller – never afraid to speak truth to power in an era where that has become all too rare.”

Laurie Kellman, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ponoka barrel racer looks to strong future

Shayna Weir’s climb to CFR promises more to come for the barrel racer

Naked man arrested for impaired driving

The man allegedly fled the scene of a collision wearing only a sheet. Plus other Ponoka RCMP briefs

Ponoka Legion commemorates 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

Ponoka residents pack Legion hall during Remembrance Day

Ponoka Secondary Campus alumni provides example of how to remember those who were lost

School’s annual Remembrance Day ceremony focuses on 100th anniversary of WWI armistace

Students at St. Augustine honour fallen Ponoka soldiers

The school’s Remembrance Day ceremony recognized the sacrifices of past soldiers

VIDEO: People with diabetes meet their alert dogs

A diabetic alert dog is trained to detect low blood sugar in people who have Type 1 diabetes

Central Alberta under snowfall warning

10-15 cm expected to have fallen by Friday morning

Roy Clark, country singer, ‘Hee Haw’ star, has died

Guitar virtuoso died because of complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Okla. He was 85.

Tinder sex assault suspect charged; additional alleged victims sought

Vincent Noseworthy of Alberta is accused of aggravated sexual assault, unlawful confinement and more

Rimbey cops zero in on chop-shop operation

Individuals charged to appear in Rimbey court Dec. 7

Children’s strawberry-flavoured medicines recalled due to faulty safety cap

Three different acetaminophen syrups part of nationwide recall

Trudeau pushes for more Saudi accountability in Khashoggi killing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is still seeking clear answers from Saudi Arabia about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi

PHOTOS: Bald eagle spotted west of Ponoka

This bald eagle sits serenely in a field west of Ponoka near Gull Lake

School bullying video shows how people with disabilities are devalued: advocates

Brett Corbett, who has cerebral palsy, is seen in a video being stepped while lying in water

Most Read