Former US presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who both defeated John McCain in their White House contests, said Saturday at the late senator’s funeral that he made them “better.”
Hailing his friend as “an extraordinary man,” warrior and patriot who embodied what is best in America, Democrat Obama said McCain “made us better presidents — just as he made the Senate better, just as he made the country better.”
He was echoing similar sentiments expressed minutes earlier by Republican Bush, who defeated McCain in a “hard fought” Republican primary battle in 2000, only to see that bitter rivalry melt away into a lasting friendship.
“He also made me better,” Bush said.
The late senator requested that both Obama and Bush deliver eulogies at his funeral, US media reported.
McCain, a war hero and towering figure in United States politics known for reaching across the aisle in an increasingly divided nation, died last Saturday following a battle with brain cancer. He was 81.
The senator’s passing marked the end of a 35-year political career that brought the independent-minded Republican within reach of the White House as his party’s presidential nominee.