The political world is paying tribute to Sen. John McCain, who died Saturday at the age of 81. These are the messages of mourning and tribute to the Republican senator, war hero and conservative maverick.
President Donald Trump: “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”
First lady Melania Trump: “Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy to the McCain Family. Thank you Senator McCain for your service to the nation.”
Vice President Mike Pence: “Karen and I send our deepest condolences to Cindy and the entire McCain family on the passing of Senator John McCain. We honor his lifetime of service to this nation in our military and in public life. His family and friends will be in our prayers. God bless John McCain.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “For John McCain, his country was his life. He was tireless in its service. Courage, determination, and relentless drive made him a great leader.
“To me, having served with him in the Senate for 20 years, 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—and in service to those then fighting valiantly for the mission the nation had given them. It was a very contentious debate. His personal dedication and leadership moved a very uncertain decision to a favorable outcome.
“His ferocious tenacity for his country was unmatched. America has lost one of its greatest patriots.”
Barack and Michelle Obama: “John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics. But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed. We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible – and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way.
“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.”
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman: “Although it was clear that John McCain’s life was ending, his death today hurts. America has lost one of the greatest patriots and public servants in our history. And I have lost a dear friend. I was lucky to know him and work with him and am comforted now by great memories of our times together and by the words he spoke to me last summer when he was recovering from the brain cancer surgery: ‘I want to live as long as I can but if my life ends soon as a result of this cancer, I will have been blessed to have lived a great life. So I am going to go forward with a lot of gratitude and joy every day I can.’ Hadassah and I send our love and prayers to Cindy and the entire McCain family.”
Joe Biden: “John McCain’s life is proof that some truths are timeless. Character. Courage. Integrity. Honor. A life lived embodying those truths casts a long, long shadow. John McCain will cast a long shadow. His impact on America hasn’t ended. Not even close. It will go on for many years to come.
“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.
“John was many things – a proud graduate of the Naval Academy, a Senate colleague, a political opponent. But, to me, more than anything, John was a friend.
“America will miss John McCain. The world will miss John McCain. And I will miss him dearly.
“On behalf of myself, Jill, and the entire Biden family, our sincerest condolences go out to Cindy, Doug, Andy, Sidney, Meghan, Jack, Jimmy, Bridget, and the entire McCain family.”
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. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathies to Cindy and the entire McCain family, and our thanks to God for the life of John McCain.”
Bill and Hillary Clinton: “Senator John McCain believed that every citizen has a responsibility to make something of the freedoms given by our Constitution, and from his heroic service in the Navy to his 35 years in Congress, he lived by his creed every day. He was a skilled, tough politician, as well as a trusted colleague alongside whom Hillary was honored to serve in the Senate. 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. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Cindy, his mother, Roberta, his children, and his entire family.”
Jimmy Carter: “John McCain was a a man of honor, a true patriot in the best sense of the word. Americans will be forever grateful for his heroic military service and for his steadfast integrity as a member of the United States Senate. Rosalynn and I extend our sincere condolences to Senator McCain’s family and to the people of Arizona whom he represented so forthrightly for so many years.”
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. John McCain was my friend. I will remember the good times. My family and I send prayers for Cindy and the McCain family.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Today is a deeply sad day for the Senate and for our nation. Elaine and I join all Americans in mourning the passing of our dear friend and colleague Senator John McCain.
“In an era filled with cynicism about national unity and public service, John McCain’s life shone as a bright example. He showed us that boundless patriotism and self-sacrifice are not outdated concepts or clichés, but the building blocks of an extraordinary American life.”
“Generations of McCains have served in our great Navy. John followed their example with distinction. And from his cell in Hanoi to the halls of the Senate, he never stopped fighting with courage and determination – first for his country, then for the people of Arizona, and always for the ideals he believed in most.
“It is fitting that this war hero and history-changing legislator should leave us as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. John was a constant advocate for his fellow veterans and those currently serving in uniform, standing up for the benefits and care they so earned by defending our freedom. His dedication to them is just one reason among so many why he earned the utmost respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
“It’s an understatement to say the Senate will not be the same without our friend John. I will treasure the many memories we’ve shared together through the years.
“The nation mourns the loss of a great American patriot, a statesman who put his country first and enriched this institution through many years of service. The Senate is keeping Cindy, the McCain family, all John’s friends and staff, and the people of Arizona in our prayers at this tremendously difficult time.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: “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. The Senate, the United States, and the world are lesser places without John McCain. Nothing will overcome the loss of Senator McCain, but so that generations remember him I will be introducing a resolution to rename the Russell building after him.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham: “America and Freedom have lost one of her greatest champions…..And I’ve lost one of my dearest friends and mentor. I will need some time to absorb this, but I want Cindy —and the entire McCain family — to know they are in my prayers.”
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. John put principle before politics. He put country before self. He was one of the most courageous men of the century. He will always be listed among freedom’s most gallant and faithful servants. Our hearts are with his wife, Cindy, his children, and his grandchildren. This Congress, this country mourn with them.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: “The nation is in tears. Today, with the passing of John McCain, Congress and America have lost a leader and public servant of deep patriotism, outstanding bravery and undaunted spirit. Compelled by his unshakeable faith and deep love of country, he dedicated his life to defending both America and the American idea – fighting tirelessly to ensure that our nation always remains a land of justice, freedom and hope.
“Over the course of John McCain’s years of distinguished service, whether as a naval officer, Member of Congress, U.S. Senator or presidential candidate, we all saw firsthand his integrity, humility, courage and grace. He never forgot the great duty he felt to care for our nation’s heroes, dedicating his spirit and energy to ensuring that no man or woman in uniform was left behind on the battlefield or once they returned home.
“Paul and I join with all Americans in mourning the loss of this extraordinary national hero. May it be a comfort to his wife, Cindy, and his beloved children, Douglas, Andrew, Sidney, Meghan, John, James and Bridget, and his beautiful mother, Roberta, that so many people in America and around with the world mourn with them and pray for them during this sad time.”
Defense Secretary James 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. In this he represented what he believed, that ‘a shared purpose does not claim our identity – on the contrary, it enlarges your sense of self.’
“His was a life well lived, one whose actions epitomized the motto of his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy: non sibi, sed patriae—’not for self, but for country.’
“On behalf of all of the men and women of the Department of Defense, we will remain forever grateful for the life, the passion, and the example of Senator John McCain. Our sympathy and kindest wishes are with Cindy and his family.”
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley: “Tonight we say goodbye to a true hero. A man who never sought accolades. A patriot who fought everyday for American freedom and dignity. A warrior of strength, a patriot of heart, and a man of conviction. There will never be another John McCain. May he rest in peace.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “Susan and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to the family of @senjohnmccain - an American patriot. We wish you fair winds and following seas.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.: “Senator McCain exemplified what it means to be a warrior and dedicated public servant. Both as a naval officer and as a member of Congress, he was a lifelong and tireless advocate for the men and women of the U.S. military.
“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. Senator McCain recognized the sacrifice and hardships military members and their families can experience and proudly served as their champion in Congress. He visited our nation’s wounded warriors around the country to offer encouragement and to thank them for their service. Through his tenacious and selfless leadership in the Senate, he fought hard to ensure our Armed Forces remained strong and had the support and resources needed to succeed when placed in harm’s way.
“While we mourn Senator McCain’s passing, we are eternally grateful for his distinguished service to our nation, his advocacy of the U.S. military, and the incredible example he set for us all.”
Sen. Jeff Flake: “Words cannot express the sorrow I feel at John McCain’s passing. The world has lost a hero and a statesman. Cindy and the McCain family have lost a loving husband and father. I have lost a wonderful friend.”
Former Sen. Harry Reid: “John McCain was a war hero, a strong, independent fighter and my friend. Our country lost an iconic leader today, and I will miss him terribly.
“John and I fought the good fight since joining Congress together in 1982 and later joining the Senate together in 1986. No one loved America more than John McCain, and he brought his lifelong commitment to service and integrity with him to Washington. Even when we disagreed, there was never any doubt that this man was a national hero who fought with honor. We always had the deepest respect for one another, and our country is better off because of his service.
“John and I both ended our final call a few weeks ago by telling each other, ‘I love you,’ and that was how we felt about one another. There will never be another John McCain. Landra and I join the country in mourning his passing and offer our condolences to Cindy and their family.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey: “John McCain is one American who will never be forgotten.
“He was a giant. An icon. An American hero. But here at home, we were most proud to call him a fellow Arizonan. Like so many of us, he was not born here, but his spirit, service and fierce independence shaped the state with which he became synonymous.
“Angela and I join all Arizonans in praying for Cindy and the entire McCain family during this difficult time and offering our full support.
“As we mourn his passing and celebrate his truly phenomenal life, we’re also faced with the void John McCain’s absence leaves in the heart and soul of our nation.
“John McCain fought for America every day — from the Navy through Vietnam to the U.S. Senate. He fought for what he thought was right, even when it wasn’t popular. His dogged patriotism and passion for country made him an inspiration, and a model, for all of us.
“John McCain was about more than politics. He brought us above partisanship and challenged us to be great.
“He once told us, ‘We’re Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.’
“May his life and legacy continue to inspire us to build a future for this country, and a history for this country, that would make John McCain proud.”
CNN’s Paul Murphy contributed to this report.