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Bush and Obama pay tribute to McCain

Presidents Bush and Obama speaking at the podium.
Photos: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush gave remembrances of their late colleague Sen. John McCain on Saturday.

Why it matters: Both of these presidents ran against and ultimately beat McCain in presidential races, in 2000 and 2008, yet were personally asked by the senator to speak at his memorial service.

From President Bush:

  • “He respected the dignity inherent in every life, a dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators. He was honorable, always recognizing that his opponents were still patriots and human beings.” (NYT)
  • "Perhaps above all, John detested the abuse of power. He could not abide bigots and swaggering despots. To the face of those in authority, John McCain would insist 'we are better than this. America is better than this.'" (CBS)
  • "The world is smaller for his departure." (CBS)

From President Obama:

  • "He made us better presidents, just as he made the Senate better, just as he made the country better." (CBS)
  • "After all, what better way to get a last laugh than to get George and I say nice things about him to a national audience. But for all our differences, for all the time we sparred, I never tried to hide - and I think John came to understand - the longstanding admiration that I had for him." (CBS)
  • "Our disagreements didn't go away during these private conversations. Those were real and they were often deep. But we enjoyed the time we shared away from the bright lights, and we laughed with each other, and we learned from each other." (CBS)
  • "He understood that if we get in the habit of bending the truth to suit political expediency or party orthodoxy, our democracy will not work." (NYT)
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