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Story highlights

Sen. John McCain said the two have "common ideals, common goals for our country."

Sen. Lindsey Graham said "I love him to death" of McCain

(CNN) —  

Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham both ended a CNN town hall wiping away tears Wednesday night, coming as the two leading Republican foreign policy hawks explained their close, years-long friendship.

“I feel like I’m on Oprah now,” Graham joked.

Graham pointed to McCain’s loyalty, saying the Arizona senator stuck with him through a tough GOP primary and during his presidential campaign, and has also supported fellow service members who, like McCain, were prisoners of war in Vietnam.

“He is loyal to his friends. He loves his country. And if he has to stand up to his party for his country, so be it,” Graham said of McCain. “He would die for his country. I love him to death.”

McCain said the two have “common ideals, common goals for our country.”

But he also pointed to Graham’s “humble” upbringing – “including the fact that he raised his sister after his parents died. It’s quite a great American success story.”

McCain said their friendship began when Graham, then a House member, was presenting the House’s case for impeachment of President Bill Clinton to senators. He recalled a Graham quip that came during a discussion of 2 a.m. White House phone calls to Monica Lewinsky amid fears she would take her affair with Clinton public.

“Congressman Graham, on the most solemn occasion, said, ‘You know, where I come from, any man calling a woman at 2 a.m. is up to no good,’” McCain said. “I knew right then that Lindsey Graham was a guy I wanted to spend time with.”