Former President Barack Obama Pays Tribute to John McCain at Memorial Service

Barack Obama gave a touching farewell to John McCain on Saturday. 

The former president said goodbye to his friend and former competitor at McCain’s memorial service at Washington National Cathedral on Saturday. McCain died at age 81 last week after losing his battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. 

During his speech, Obama — who battled McCain in the 2008 presidential election — joked about McCain asking him to speak at the service. “John loved being a little unpredictable,” he said, as the crowd, which included McCain’s family and former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, bust into laughter. 

“What better way to get a last laugh than to get George and I to say nice things about him to a national audience?” Obama asked with a chuckle, though noted McCain “made us better presidents. Just as he made the Senate better. Just as he made this country better.”

The politician, whose speech followed Bush’s, also opened up about the “longstanding admiration” he had for McCain, even when the Arizona Sen. called him “once a day” to tell him he was “screwing up.” 

“John was a pretty considerate guy. Trust me, I was n the receiving end of some of those votes. But he did understand that some principles transcend politics,” Obama said, before noting McCain famously standing up for him when his patriotism was challenged during the 2008 campaign. 

“I was grateful, but I wasn’t surprised,” he explained. “I never saw John treat anyone differently because of their race, religion or gender. And I’m certain in those moments that were referred to in the campaign, he saw himself as defending America’s character, not just mine.”

Obama also revealed that he and McCain would have private meeting in the White House during his time as president. “Those were real, and they were often deep. But we enjoyed the time we shared away from the bright lights,” he recalled. “We never doubted the other man’s sincerity, or the other man’s patriotism, or that when all was said and done, we were on the same team. We never doubted we were on the same team.” 

See more on McCain in the video below. 

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