Sen. Susan Collins offered a deeply personal view of the late Sen. John McCain on Sunday, saying that she’s going to “miss the fact that he was so much fun,” as well as his humor and his mentorship in the Senate.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Collins, a Republican from Maine, shared fond memories of the Arizona Republican, who died on Saturday at the age of 81, leaving behind a long legacy of public service.
“I’m going to miss the fact that he was so much fun,” Collins told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “He had a great sense of humor. And I traveled extensively with him and saw that firsthand.”
“His capacity to learn and his insatiable curiosity were extraordinary,” Collins added. “So, I’ll miss that as well. But, frankly, I will miss how much fun he was, and how much I learned from him. And he leaves a big hole in my heart.”
Collins said that she took several trips with McCain, including one to Antarctica, one to his ranch in Sedona, Arizona, and a few trips to Iraq and Afghanistan in the “very early stages of the war.”
McCain was a mentor to Collins when she was a young senator, she said.
“I think this is a part of John McCain that a lot of people don’t know about, is that he took younger senators under his wing. And in my case … he taught me so much about national security and foreign policy, even when we didn’t always agree,” she said.
Collins, whom McCain famously sided with in opposing the GOP-led narrow repeal of Obamacare last year, said that the loss of McCain means the loss of “an important voice for national unity.”
“John McCain felt very strongly about virtually every issue that he tackles, but it was never based in partisanship,” she said. “He didn’t try to score partisan points as he worked on issues. He would work with anyone who wanted to accomplish the goal that he shared.”
Asked about McCain’s legacy, Collins said, “What the American people should know was that John McCain was a true patriot, a man who loved his country, who would do anything to advance his country, a man who believed in national unity, who put his country above himself, who lived a life of self-sacrifice and who is an inspiration, not only to those of us who serve now, but to future generations as well.”
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, also spoke about McCain’s sense of humor later in the show.
“But I think part of the moment that people don’t always realize about him was just this humor he had, this joy for his work, and that anyone that worked with him experienced that,” she said. “So yes, it’s about patriotism, but it’s also about personal friendship.”
Klobuchar, who also traveled extensively with McCain, said that although he never became president, he was a giant in the Senate.
“He had a joy about politics and a love for his country that was unmatched, and while he never made it to the presidency, in the Senate, he was the leader that would see a hot spot in the world and decide we need to go there and stand up for that Democracy.”