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Sen. John McCain Is Remembered By Friends and Foes Alike

August 26, 2018, 1:28 PM UTC

Senator John McCain’s allies and political foes rallied in a rare show of unity in offering condolences on the death of the Vietnam War hero.

President Donald Trump, who had repeatedly criticized McCain since he began his presidential campaign in 2015, tweeted his “deepest sympathies and respect” for the Republican senator’s family, while former President Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in the 2008 election, said he competed “at the highest level of politics.”

The outpouring grew on social media and in Washington after McCain died at his Arizona home on Saturday following a long battle with brain cancer. He was 81. Here are some of the other voices that mourned McCain’s passing and celebrated his illustrious life:

McCain’s widow, Cindy, on Twitter: “I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best.”

Vice President Mike Pence on Twitter: “We honor his lifetime of service to this nation in our military and public life…God bless John McCain.”

Former President George W. Bush: “Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled. John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order. He was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country. And to me, he was a friend whom I’ll deeply miss.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “Senator McCain was one of the biggest political personalities of our time — a tireless fighter for a strong trans-Atlantic alliance; his significance went well beyond the borders of his own country. We have lost a person whose personal courage and whose honesty shaped the execution of his politics. John McCain was led by the firm conviction that the reason for any political work is in service of freedom, democracy and constitutional rule. His death is a loss for all who share this belief.”

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May: “John McCain was a great statesman, who embodied the idea of service over self. It was an honor to call him a friend of the U.K. My deepest sympathies go to his family, and the American people.” French President Emmanuel Macron: “John McCain was a true American hero. He devoted his entire life to his country. His voice will be missed. Our respectful thoughts go to his beloved ones.”

McCain’s presidential running mate, Sarah Palin: “Today we lost an American original. Sen. John McCain was a maverick and a fighter, never afraid to stand for his beliefs. John never took the easy path in life — and through sacrifice and suffering he inspired others to serve something greater than self.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden: “As a POW, John endured the worst of what human beings can do to one another. In politics, he fell short of his greatest ambition. At the end of his life he faced a cruel and relentless disease. And yet through it all he never lost sight of what he believed most: Country First. And the spirit that drove him was never extinguished: we are here to commit ourselves to something bigger than ourselves.”

Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis: “We have lost a man who steadfastly represented the best ideals of our country. As a Naval Officer and defiant prisoner of war, John McCain stood with his brothers-in-arms until they returned home together. Passionately committed to our country, Senator McCain always put service to the Nation before self. He recognized that for our experiment in democracy to long endure, people of action and passion must serve.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Alabama senator: “His support for President Bush’s surge in Iraq at a time when things had been going badly and public support had eroded was one of the most dramatic, important, patriotic, and selfless actions I had the honor to witness in that body. His presidential aspirations were entirely set aside. He totally deployed his considerable strength and energy to what he believed was best for his country.”

Former President Bill Clinton: “He frequently put partisanship aside to do what he thought was best for the country, and was never afraid to break the mold if it was the right thing to do. I will always be especially grateful for his leadership in our successful efforts to normalize relations with Vietnam.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph F. Dunford Jr.: “He traveled the world to meet personally with Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, to hear what they had to say, and to see firsthand our military in action on the front lines. Through his tenacious and selfless leadership in the Senate, he fought hard to ensure our Armed Forces remained strong.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Twitter: “As you go through life, you meet few truly great people. John McCain was one of them. His dedication to his country and the military were unsurpassed, and 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.”

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan: “This is a sad day for the United States. Our country has lost a decorated war hero and statesman. John McCain was a giant of our time — not just for the things he achieved, but for who he was and what he fought for all his life.”

Retired Vietnamese Colonel Tran Trong Duyet, former director of the jail where McCain was held as a prisoner of war, in an interview with Agence France-Presse: “It was his stubbornness, his strong stance that I loved when arguing with him…Out of working hours, we considered each other friends…He taught me English.”