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tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Pays Tribute to Sen. John Mc Cain R-AZ  CSPAN  August 28, 2018 9:44am-10:01am EDT

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he also knew that history is not a straight line and that the ghosts of the great ideological struggle of the 20th century are still here haunting the 21st. as he recently told jeffrey goldberg of the atlantic, there's always a putin somewhere in the world and you're meant to oppose him with all the skills god gave you. so, as we say goodbye to john mccain, let us take up his banner. his was always the good fight. we are fortunate to have known him best in arizona. but he was bigger than any one state. he always belonged to america and to the world. and now, he belongs to the ages. farewell, senator. farewell, john. i yield the floor.
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>> mr. president, i look across the senate, see our colleague senator mccain's desk, silent, draped in black, under a vase of white roses and it's breaking my heart. i'm here to say my farewell and i have a bit of a predicament, which is that i am a very ordinary man here to try and give tribute to a very extraordinary man. john mccain was an extraordinary man. extraordinary in his suffering and resilience.
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extraordinary in his ideals and principles. extraordinary in his courage and devotion. and extraordinary, too, in the devotion he engendered. we met when i was a new senator and he already a legend. his battles for campaign finance reform and against corrupting earmarks were legendary. he could make a point here on the senate floor with legendary drama and punch and declarative force. he could also be unreasonable and he took a completely unreasonable liking to me.
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our politics did not match. i could offer him nothing. and yet, he befriended me. and as so many colleagues know, john's friendship was a treasure. john showed courage in many ways, but he showed real courage in friendship. when an attack was mounted on one of hillary clinton's staffers, he came straight to the floor to defend her publicly. when someone attacked the character of senator obama at a political event, he said, no, i know him. he's a good family man. loyalty attracts loyalty. and john was loyal. we traveled a lot together to
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afghanistan, and iraq, to munich and mali and mongolia, to many, many places, but most poignantly to vietnam. my dad served five years in vietnam and he told me about his colleague, admiral mccain, whose son was a p.o.w., who had been shot down and wounded terribly, but refused early release. as a boy i went with my father to an air base in saigon, the night that our p.o.w.'s returned from captivity. john had left straight from hanoi and did not pass through, but i witnessed how frail and
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ill and pale and battered his fellow p.o.w.'s were as they clamored out of the helicopters and into the glare of the tv ligh lights. well, i was ready to revere any man who had been through that and to find that this man was so friendly, and cheerful, and feisty, and irreverent, that put me irrevocably into his club. and john attracted people of exceptional talent and ability to became so devoted, they would walk through fire for
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him. john attracted the admiration of foreign leaders. not just from great powers, but from remote and struggling countries. when we traveled in libya, john was received like lafayette. he had been there when it counted, when freedom there was in the offing. he was beloved in ukraine. he had spoken when freedom there was in the offing. and he spent an icy new year's eve with ukrainian troops on their front line. in vietnam john was revered.
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i don't know any celebrities, but i do know what travelling with a celebrity is like because i've traveled with john mccain in vietnam. the statue that stands in hanoi by the lake where he was shot down calls him an air pirate, but he was treated everywhere as a hero. and you had to know he liked the air pirate thing. wherever we went in the world, he wanted to meet with prisoners, with the opposition, with whomever was pursuing freedom for their country. john mccain was america's most vigorous and loyal ambassador of freedom.
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he was fiercely proud that one place he was not welcomed was russia. putin had banned him. no more holidays in siberia, john laughed. well, mark my words, one day even russia will turn towards freedom and when it does, john mccain will be revered there. john made a big difference in a great many ways, but the one i want to close with is the senate. senators are often stuffy. john was not. if there was ever a senator entitled to take himself seriously, it was john. yet, he didn't. he effervesed to the annoyance
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of some our colleagues. here, too, john engendered lifetime loyalty and affection and respect. lindsey and joe and kelly were his great amigos, none greater than lindsey. but many of us loved him well. millions of americans saw john mccain give the famous c-span thumbs down that put an end to repeal and replace. they probably did not see what happened next. having just cast what was a devastating vote for many of his colleagues, he went back to
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his seat and from my seat here across the chamber, i saw john's colleagues gently start moving toward him. they may have hated his vote, but there was nevertheless this gentle flow of bodies moving to stand around and near him. his friend dan sullivan of alaska was one who came down from the back row, just to stand near john in the aisle. hate the vote, love the man. this place can be complicated. john could be annoying. in munich accepting an award for john his beloved cindy said, i love him most of the time.
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his temper could be explosive. i read once of a man nicknamed for a south american volcano because he constantly fumed and regularly erupted. and i thought of john. he loved a good fight and was eager to pile in. a fight not joined is a fight not enjoyed, he'd say. an extraordinary man is not a flawless man and in his full humanity john gave the rest of us mortals hope. you need not be perfect in order to try and be extraordinary. well, he was extraordinary. i think we all found in him qualities of affection, principle, courage, and drama
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that were extraordinary. and at the end of the day, as compass needles turn toward true north, you knew where he would be pointing. but i will quote some of his last public words here. though the true radiance of our world may at times seem obscur obscured, though we will suffer adversity and setbacks and misfortune, never ever stop fighting for all that is good and just and decent about our world and each other.
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i will never forget and will always treasure our friendship, but what i will revere is the way john mccain pointed true north at what was good and just and decent. about our world and each other. his hero, robert jordan, in for whom the bell tolls said as he died, the world is a fine place and where the the fighting for. and i hate very much to leave it.
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we hate very much, john, that you have had to leave it. god bless you. i yield the floor. >> senator john mccain is set to be remembered in services in phoenix, arizona and the nation's capital. wednesday on what would have been his 82nd birthday, senator mccain's body will lie in state at the arizona state capitol in phoenix, followed by a private ceremony. arizona's junior senator jeff flake will speak. thursday, a funeral service at north phoenix baptist church where his senate colleague former vice-president joe biden will be among the speakers. the senator's body is thrown to joint base andrews in maryland and he'll lie in state in the
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capitol rotunda. saturday, former presidents george w. bush and barack obama memorialize senator john mccain in a ceremony at the national cathedral. and he will be laid to rest at the u.s. naval academy in a private ceremony. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. and today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. provider. >> the u.s. senate is about to gavel in to get their day started. more work expected on the nomination of lynn johnson to be assistant health and human services secretary for family support. a vote to confirm johnson is
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scheduled for 10:30 eastern this morning and at the time the lawmakers will vote to limit debate and advance nomination of richard clarita to the vice chair of governors of the reserve. and we expect tribute to the late senator john mccain who passed away earlier this month. they will recess to allow lawmakers to attend their weekly caucus party lunches. live to the floor of the u.s. senate here on c-span2.


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