Updated at 3:52 p.m. ET
Joe Biden walked up to the microphone on the altar in the church at his friend John McCain's funeral and sounded like a man with something to confess.
"My name's Joe Biden," he said. "I'm a Democrat. And I loved John McCain."
Then he paused. Biden noted that he had given a lot of eulogies over the years. But "this one's hard," he said.
He choked up, wiped away a tear at the ceremony at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Arizona, and continued. "I always thought of John as a brother," Biden said. "We had a hell of a lot of family fights."
McCain requested that the former Democratic vice president eulogize him at his funeral. And through the lens of today's era of partisanship, their friendship makes little sense. Biden is cut from a decidedly liberal cloth; McCain was conservative. And they deeply disagreed on policy. But they were friends for 40 years, born out of a mutual respect for each other and love of country.
Both men were forged in the fires of deep pain — Biden lost his wife and daughter in a car accident; McCain had just gotten out of Vietnam, where he was tortured at the hands of his captors for 5 1/2 years.
Biden said at the ceremony Thursday that when they became friends, they didn't talk about those two things that had shaped each other's lives. But they both clearly meant something deeply important to each other.
"I trusted John with my life," Biden said. And, he added, "The thing that's understated the most was his optimism. That's what made John special, made him a giant among us."
Biden, as he has done repeatedly over the years at funerals, played a pastoral role.
"The disease that took John's life — that took our friend Ted Kennedy's life. That took my son Beau's life — is brutal, relentless, unforgiving," Biden said. "It takes so much from those we love — and from the families who love them — that in order to survive we have to remember how they lived — not how they died."
The image he carries with him of Beau, he said, is one of him starting a boat, smiling and waving. "Not the last days," he said.
To McCain's family, Biden said, "You will all find your own images." Maybe it's a smile, a laugh, a rub on the shoulder, a touch on the cheek.
Or, he added, "The sheer joy that crossed his face when he was about to take the stage on the floor of the Senate and start a fight. God, he loved it."
Biden, a man who has seen and felt great pain, promised those closest to McCain that there will come a day when the mention of McCain's name will bring a smile to their faces before a tear to their cheeks, and that's when they will know they will make it.
Biden ended his speech, paraphrasing Shakespeare before banging the lectern: "We shall not see his like again."
Rick Davis, who was McCain's campaign manager, said earlier this week of their friendship, per NBC News: "If there's a better of exemplification of debating and throwing a few punches, but at the end of the day being able to maintain a relationship with the people you are at battle with, as the model of governance John McCain adhered to, that relationship with Biden was in the category."
McCain's friendship with Biden was one in a long line of Democrats he reached out to and befriended over the years. It was, in part, because McCain believed in the necessity of reaching across the aisle to get big things done. But it was also because he just liked some of them, and he wasn't going to let politics get in the way.
Biden lamented the decline of bipartisanship in the Senate. He pinned the decline back to a moment in 1996. Up until then, he said, he and McCain would often sit next to each other during floor fights while issues were debated, either Biden going over to the Republican side or McCain venturing over to him.
One day, though, Biden said, McCain and Biden were each approached separately by leaders of their respective caucuses, who told them to stop sitting with each other because "it didn't look good."
Biden said that kind of attitude makes it "impossible to reach consensus." He added that today, people in both parties are busy attacking each other's motives rather than the substance of their arguments.
McCain was also good friends with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, the Massachusetts liberal, who died of the same brain cancer nine years earlier and with whom he had worked on comprehensive immigration reform.
"Some of the biggest fights I'd ever had was one with Ted Kennedy," McCain joked on CBS's 60 Minutes last year. And yet, he added, "We were the closest of friends. ... Whether you liked him, whether you disliked him, whether you agreed with him or disagreed with him, he was always ready to do battle, but he wasn't ready to get personal. And that's what matters."
McCain also invited another Democrat to eulogize him at his funeral: Barack Obama, the man who defeated him for the presidency in 2008. Obama is set to speak Saturday at the National Cathedral. Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent/Democrat, will also speak that day. McCain wrote in his book The Restless Wave that he wished he had picked Lieberman to be his vice presidential running mate in 2008.
Obama will follow former President George W. Bush, with whom McCain also sparred. Bush defeated McCain for the Republican nomination for president in 2000 in a bitter battle. Not invited to speak: Sarah Palin, McCain's vice presidential pick in 2008, or President Trump.
Trump and McCain both had charmed upbringings, but they couldn't have made more different choices with their lives. McCain wasn't one for conspiracy theories; he was generally courteous and respectful of the press — and, mostly, he truly believed in the system of governance the Founders set up.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, McCain said Trump was "firing up the crazies"; Trump hit back, saying he likes people who weren't captured; and then McCain thwarted the Republicans' health care repeal effort.
McCain's funeral, which he had a great say in planning, was full of diversity — along with Biden were a former Republican chief of staff, a Latino pastor, a Mexican-American Democrat who chaired his early Senate campaign, a Navajo flutist, and Larry Fitzgerald, a wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, who is black.
Grant Woods, McCain's former chief of staff, delivered what sounded like a veiled shot at Trump, noting that McCain "wouldn't stand by" when people tried to stamp on the Bill of Rights, "including the First Amendment."
Biden, quoting the Declaration of Independence, said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ..."
Then he thundered, "To John, those words had meaning."
He added, "You could come to a different conclusion, but where he'd part company with you — if you lacked the basic values of decency, respect, knowing that this project is bigger than yourself."
Trump and McCain never patched things up. And McCain, whose casket exited the church to Frank Sinatra's My Way, got the last word.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
While McCain opposed the Obama-era Affordable Care Act (ACA), he cast the deciding vote against the ACA-repealing American Health Care Act of 2017. After being diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017, he reduced his role in the Senate in order to focus on treatment. He died in 2018 aged 81.How old is Joe Biden? › How did John McCain get released? ›
He was refused medical treatment and beaten with a bayonet. While holding him as a prisoner of war, the North Vietnamese tried to exploit the fact that his father was a prominent admiral at the time. They offered McCain an early release.What was the cause of John McCain death? ›
According to a statement from his office, Mr. McCain died at 4:28 p.m. local time. He had suffered from a malignant brain tumor, called a glioblastoma, for which he had been treated periodically with radiation and chemotherapy since its discovery in 2017.How old is the oldest president? ›
Age of presidents
The youngest at the time of his election to the office was John F. Kennedy, at age 43. The oldest person elected president was Joe Biden, the nation's current president, at age 77. Biden celebrated a birthday between Election Day and Inauguration Day making him 78 when sworn into office.
William Henry Harrison
The former president died just 31 days into the job, marking the shortest presidency in the country's history. Harrison was born in 1773 and held the record of the oldest president elected to office for 140 years until Reagan's election.
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He was in a battle and was later captured by the British, making him the only president to have been a prisoner of war. Jackson was magnetic and charming but with a quick temper that got him into many duels, two of which left bullets in him.What was McCain's punishment for refusing to be released? ›
McCain was offered an early release — but he refused it
Shattering his leg and both arms during his ejection from the fighter plane, McCain was captured by the North Vietnamese and spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war.
Arthur W. Vanaman - Major General, Chief-of-Staff for Intelligence for the Eighth Air Foce. Highest-ranked American POW in the European Theater during WWII.
Part of the reason why glioblastomas are so deadly is that they arise from a type of brain cell called astrocytes. These cells are shaped like a star, so when the tumors form they develop tentacles, which makes them difficult to remove surgically. Additionally, the tumors advance rapidly.What is the life expectancy with glioblastoma? ›
Although the average life expectancy after diagnosis is 14 to 16 months, approximately 1% of patients survive at least 10 years. Currently, the longest anyone has survived a glioblastoma is more than 20 years and counting.Why is glioblastoma so lethal? ›
Glioblastoma is the most lethal primary central nervous system cancer. Part of the reason the tumor is so deadly is because it is hard to treat. The tumor itself is invasive and aggressive – it develops tentacles that invade other areas. This makes it hard to completely remove with surgery.Who was the only unmarried president? ›
Tall, stately, stiffly formal in the high stock he wore around his jowls, James Buchanan was the only President who never married.Which president had 15 children? ›
John Tyler was the most prolific of all American President: he had 15 children and two wives. In 1813, Tyler married Letitia Christian, the daughter of a Virginia planter. They had eight children.Who was the youngest First Lady of the United States? ›
Hundreds of spectators gathered outside of the White House to celebrate. Frances Cleveland was the first presidential spouse to marry in the White House itself, and she was the youngest presidential spouse in American history. She was 21 years old, and her groom was 49.Who is the oldest person to ever live? ›
Jeanne Calment, a French woman, achieved an incredible feat of living to age 122, thus earning the honor of being the world's oldest person on record.Who is the oldest person in the world? ›
The oldest known living person is Maria Branyas of Spain, aged 116 years, 96 days. The oldest known living man is Juan Vicente Pérez of Venezuela, aged 114 years, 12 days. The 100 oldest women have, on average, lived several years longer than the 100 oldest men.Who was the shortest president? ›
The tallest U.S. president was Abraham Lincoln at 6 feet 4 inches (193 centimeters), while the shortest was James Madison at 5 feet 4 inches (163 centimeters). Joe Biden, the current president, is 6 feet 0 inches (183 centimeters) according to a physical examination summary from February 2023.Do you age faster as a president? ›
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As directed by the Constitution, a presidential candidate must be a natural born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 years, and 35 years of age or older.What are the 4 requirements to be president? ›
- Be a natural-born citizen of the United States.
- Be at least 35 years old.
- Have been a resident of the United States for 14 years.
By this time, Jack McCain had risen in the ranks, making rear admiral in 1958 and vice admiral in 1963; in May 1967, he was promoted to four-star admiral, and became Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, stationed in London.What was John McCain's net worth? ›
McCain's memoir, "The Restless Wave," was released in May. He and wife Cindy McCain quietly sat on a fortune of more than $200 million, largely due to Cindy's stake in one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.Who ran with McCain in 2008? ›
Romney ends campaign
Both McCain and Romney addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., on February 7. Romney used his speech to announce the end of his campaign, solidifying McCain's status as the likely Republican nominee.
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In September 1950, Omar N. Bradley became the fifth Army general to be promoted to five-star rank. The five-star rank still exists, although no U.S. officers have held it since the death of General Bradley in 1981. The president may promote a general or admiral to five-star rank at any time, with Senate approval.Which president had the highest military rank? ›
|Rank order||Highest rank||President|
|1||General of the Armies of the United States||George Washington|
He was almost 18 years her senior; by her later description, each fudged the age they said they were to the other: "He made himself younger, and I made myself older, of course." He had been married to Carol McCain for 14 years and they had three children (two of whom he adopted from her first marriage).
In her spare time, she enjoys competing in fantasy sports leagues and watching too much reality TV. Meghan McCain is officially a mom of two! The former View co-host and husband Ben Domenech have welcomed a baby girl, the couple announced via The Daily Mail on Friday.How many times did John McCain run for president? ›
John McCain unsuccessfully ran for president twice: John McCain 2000 presidential campaign. John McCain 2008 presidential campaign.How many votes did Obama get against McCain? ›
Bush term-limited, Senator John McCain of Arizona won the Republican nomination in the 2008 Republican primaries. Obama won the general election with 52.9 percent of the popular vote and 365 of the 538 electoral votes.How did Obama win against McCain? ›
Obama won the presidential race largely because voters perceived that he, and not John McCain, cared about and would address middle-class economic struggles and inequities.How many votes did Obama beat McCain in 2008? ›
|Party Nominees Electoral Vote Popular Vote Presidential Vice Presidential Democratic Barack Obama Joseph Biden 365 67.8% 69,456,897 52.9% Republican John McCain Sarah Palin 173 32.2% 59,934,814 45.7%|
Seventeen sailors were housed in berthing 5, a 15-foot wide space that was compacted into a five-foot sliver. The report suggests that the 10 who died either drowned or were crushed by the impact. Twelve sailors were in berthing 5 at the time of the collision.How many people died on the USS McCain? ›
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