John McCain called hero, mav­er­ick

Ripon Bulletin - - Local -

PHOENIX (AP) — A former vice pres­i­dent, an NFL star and other friends re­mem­bered Sen. John McCain as a “true Amer­i­can hero” — and a ter­ri­ble driver with a wicked sense of hu­mor and love of a good bat­tle — at a crowded church ser­vice Thurs­day for the mav­er­ick politi­cian that ended to the tune of Frank Si­na­tra’s “My Way.”

Ad­dress­ing an es­ti­mated 3,500 mourn­ers, former Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den re­called “the sheer joy that crossed his face when he knew he was about to take the stage of the Se­nate floor and start a fight.”

Bi­den, a Demo­crat who was among the fast friends the Repub­li­can sen­a­tor made across the aisle, said he thought of McCain as a brother, “with a lot of fam­ily fights.”

The ser­vice for the states­man, former pris­oner of war and two-time pres­i­den­tial can­di­date un­folded at North Phoenix Bap­tist Church af­ter a mo­tor­cade bear­ing McCain’s body made its way from the state Capi­tol past Ari­zo­nans wav­ing Amer­i­can flags and cam­paign-style McCain signs.

Fam­ily mem­bers watched in si­lence as uni­formed mil­i­tary mem­bers re­moved the flag-draped cas­ket from a black hearse and car­ried it into the church. McCain died Satur­day of brain can­cer at age 81.

McCain’s long­time chief of staff Grant Woods, a former Ari­zona at­tor­ney gen­eral, drew laughs with a eu­logy in which he talked about McCain’s “ter­ri­bly bad driv­ing” and his sense of hu­mor, which in­cluded call­ing the Leisure World re­tire­ment com­mu­nity “Seizure World.”

Woods also re­called the way McCain would in­tro­duce him to new staff mem­bers by say­ing, “You’ll have to fire half of them.”

The church’s se­nior pas­tor, Noe Gar­cia, pro­nounced McCain “a true Amer­i­can hero.”

The ser­vice brought to a close two days of mourn­ing for the six-term sen­a­tor and 2008 GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee in his home state.

A mo­tor­cade then took McCain’s body to the air­port, where it was put aboard a mil­i­tary plane that flew to Joint Base An­drews, Mary­land, out­side Washington ahead of a lyin­gin-state at the U.S. Capi­tol on Fri­day, a ser­vice at the Washington Na­tional Cathe­dral on Satur­day, and burial at the U.S. Naval Academy in An­napo­lis, Mary­land, on Sun­day.

Twenty-four sit­ting U.S. sen­a­tors and four former sen­a­tors at­tended the church ser­vice, ac­cord­ing to McCain’s of­fice.

Nei­ther Bi­den nor other speak­ers ut­tered Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s name, but Bi­den made what some saw as a veiled ref­er­ence to the pres­i­dent when he talked about McCain’s char­ac­ter and how he parted com­pany with those who “lacked the ba­sic val­ues of de­cency and re­spect, know­ing this project is big­ger than your­self.”

Bi­den said McCain “could not stand the abuse of power wher­ever he saw it, in what­ever form, in what­ever coun­try.”

Dab­bing his eyes at times, Bi­den also re­ferred to his own son’s death from can­cer, say­ing of the dis­ease, “It’s bru­tal, it’s re­lent­less, it’s un­for­giv­ing.” And he spoke di­rectly to McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, in the front row: “You were his bal­last.”

At the end of the nearly 90-minute cer­e­mony, McCain’s cas­ket was wheeled out of the church to “My Way,” in trib­ute to a politi­cian known for fol­low­ing his own path based on his per­sonal prin­ci­ples.

McCain clashed openly with Trump, who mocked McCain for get­ting cap­tured dur­ing the Viet­nam War. Two White House of­fi­cials said McCain’s fam­ily had asked that Trump not at­tend the fu­neral ser­vices.

Trump, who had been widely crit­i­cized for his muted re­sponse to McCain’s death, in­sisted in an in­ter­view with Bloomberg News Thurs­day that he’d hon­ored the sen­a­tor ap­pro­pri­ately.

“I’ve done ev­ery­thing that they re­quested and no, I don’t think I have at all,” he said in re­sponse to a ques­tion about whether he’d made a mis­take and missed an op­por­tu­nity to unite the coun­try.

Asked whether McCain would have made a bet­ter pres­i­dent than McCain’s 2008 ri­val, Barack Obama, Trump said: “I don’t want to com­ment on it. I have a very strong opin­ion, all right.”

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