George W. Bush tribute to John McCain

Former President George W. Bush remembers Sen. John McCain.
7:50 | 09/01/18

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Transcript for George W. Bush tribute to John McCain
Cindy and the McCain family I am honored. To be with you to offer my sympathies and to celebrate a great life. The nation joins your extraordinary family in grief. And gratitude for John McCain. Some lives are so vivid. It's difficult to imagine them ended. Some horses are so vibrant and distinctive. It's hard to think of them still. A man who seldom rested. Is laid to rest. And his absence is tangible. Like the silence after a mighty roar. Thing about jobs life was the amazing sweep carpet. From a tiny prison cell in Vietnam. To the floor of the United States said. From trouble making please. Presidential candidate. Wherever draft passed throughout the world people immediately knew there was a leader in their midst. In one epic life was written encouraging greatness of our country. For John to me there was a personal journey. A hard fought political history. Back in the day he could frustrate me. And I know he'd say the same thing about me. But he also may be better. In recent years we sometimes talk of that intense period like football players. Remembering a big game. In the process. Rivalry melted away. In the end I got to enjoy one of life's great gifts. The friendship of John McCain. And I'll miss it. Moments before my last debate. Ever. With Senator John Kerry in Phoenix us trying to gather. Some thoughts in a holding room. I felt the presence. Opened my eyes. And six inches from my face was McCain who yelled relax relax. John was above all. A man with a code. He lived by a set up public virtues that brought strength and purpose to his life into this country. He was courageous. Whether courage that frightened his captors and inspire his countrymen. He was honest. No matter whom it offended. Presidents were not spare. He was honorable. Always recognizing that his opponents were still patriots and human beings. He love freedom. With the passion of a man who exceptions. He respected the dignity inherent in every life. A dignity that does not stop at borders and cannot be erased by dictators. Perhaps above all of John detested the abuse of power. Could not abide bigots and swaggering guesses. There were something deeper deciding that made him stand up for the little guy. To speak for forgotten people. In forgotten places. When friends from his Naval Academy days because John Wiley lowly plea. Reacted to seeing an upper classmen are really abuse or Stuart. His whole tradition. He told the jerk to pick on someone his own child's. It was a familiar refrain during his six decades of service. We're just so shrinking conviction come from. Perhaps from a family where honor was in the atmosphere. Or from the first hand experience of cruelty. Which left physical reminders that lasted his whole life. Or from some deep well of moral principle. Whatever the cause. It was just combination of courage and decency that define Johns calling. And so closely paralleled. The calling of this country. Just combination of courage and decency that makes the American military something new and history. An unrivaled power for good. Just combination of courage and decency that set America on a journey into the world. Deliberate death camps. To stand guard against extremism. And to work for the true peace that comes only with freedom. John felt these commitments in his bones. It is a tribute to his moral compass. That dissidents and prisoners in so many places from Russia. To North Korea to China. Knew that he was on their side. And I think they're respecting what meant more to him. In any medals and honors life could bring. The passion for fairness and justice extended to our own military. When a private was poorly equipped or semen was overworked and terrible conditions John enjoyed nothing more. And dressing down and admiral or general. You remain the trouble simply to the end. Those in political par were not exempt. At various points throughout his long career John confronted policies and practices that he believed were unworthy of this country. To the face of those in authority John McCain would insist we are better than this. America is better than yours. John is in the first to tell you was not a perfect man but he dedicated his life to national ideals. That are as perfect as men and women have yet concedes. He was motivated by a vision of America carried ever forward every up ever. On the strength of its principles. He saw our country not only is it physical place or power but as the carrier of enduring human aspirations. As an advocate for the oppressed. As a defender of the peace. As a promise. Unwavering. On damned. Unequal. The strength of the democracy is renewed by re affirming the principles on which it was founded. In America somehow it's always found leaders who are up to that task. Particularly at the time of greatest need. John was born to meet that kind of challenge. To defend and demonstrate the defining ideals of our nation. If we're ever tempted to forget who we are. To grow weary of our cause. John's voice will always come as a whisper over our shoulder. We are better than this. America is better than niche. John was a restless soul he really didn't glory and success or wallow in failure. Because he was always onto the next thing. Friends said he can't stay in the same experience. One of his books and it with the words and I moved gone. John has moved on. He would probably not want us to dwell on it. But we are better first presence among us. The world a smaller for his departure. And we will remember him as he was. Unwavering. I'm damned. Funny.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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