Joseph I. Lieberman tribute to John McCain

Former Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman remembering John McCain.
21:59 | 09/01/18

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Transcript for Joseph I. Lieberman tribute to John McCain
Tribune now. Former senator just Weaver and one Democrat. Great friend of John McCain. Cain says he wishes he picked him as. An enemy can no wonderful McCain family. Presidents Clinton personal bond sectors Kissinger and Clinton or via other honored guests that are here ladies and gentlemen. Becoming John McCain's friends. Is one of the great blessings of my life. Being asked to pay tribute to him today it is one of the great honors. And for that I thank Cindy. And the entire McCain family and I also want to thank them. Including his mother his Brothers and a sister the seven wonderful. Children for the love and support. You gave juncture artist's life. And his service none more. Than in the last year of his slaves and use and the have been absolutely. Thank you have been absolutely saintly. And we his friends cannot thank you I'm. There's a special satisfaction that comes from serving a cause greater than yourself. I heard John say those words hundreds of times particularly the young people and you all heard them a lot of swell but for him. We know they were not just words in his speech stay word decreed. That he lived by. And the greater cause. To which he devoted his life was America. Not so march that country defined by its borders. But the America of our founding values freedom human rights opportunity. Democracy and equal justice under law. And John slave. He notably served an advance these American values. And remarkably. His death seems to have reminded. The American people and wounded these values. Are what makes us a great nation. Not to try a bull. Partisanship. And personal attack politics that have recently. Characterize their own life this week celebration. Of the life and values. And patriotism. Of this here hope I think you've taken our country. Above all that. In a way it's the last great gift to John McCain gave America. And I want to suggest to the that we can give the last great gifted him. Which is to nurture. These values. And take them forward. Into the years. Ahead. To make America. The bear country John always knew it could be I pray that we will. And I ask you to do so as world. Let me try to. Pay tribute. To this great man. By describing and sharing stories from our friendship. Which began in the early 1990s. As part of a a bipartisan group. Pushing our government to stop the aggression and supporter in Bosnia and that we begin a collaborate on a lot of bipartisan legislation. But really our friendship deep freedom in our travels together around the world. We us our third amigo when Seagram. When you traveled would not even little Lindsey along. The purpose was not to have fun. In fact some time it's in the purpose was just to survive the schedule. He would organize. John had a restless. Energy. Every day including to do is we traveled to get the most out of every day. He possibly could and he did it. And supposedly. Who were privileged to know him. John traveled to learn so he could be a better senator he traveled to represented. America as best he could wherever we went and he did and he traveled. To support the men and women of our armed services whether in war. Are at peace where ever they were and they in turn. Welcomed him in not just respect football. As the hero John McCain was. Is and always will be. And shared experiences have long conversations. On these trips John and I got to know and trust each other. As friends in a way that doesn't happen because it can't happen much anymore. In the frenetic. Washington wife of senators. Our friendship taught me many things. Including I must. Some jokes that of the war's never would have known. John loved to laugh. And make others Lara. When he found a joke to people like this. He told it over. And over. And over again. What are my favorites was about the two inmates. Going through the food line for dinner at the state penitentiary. One says to the other the food is terrible here. And the other says there was a lot better when I was governor. Yeah. I heard that one often. And I laugh. Every time because John levs over every time he told the the range of John's mind interest and experience was impressive. And often surprising you couldn't characterize this man you love to read history. And fiction and talked about it argue about it. He had a pervasive curiosity about just about everything in life. You love the outdoors. And all of God's creatures large and small who live there. Most people would be surprised by how much pleasure. This combative senator got from washing the hummingbirds. At the McCain family home. Outside Sedona Arizona. But of course John's great care strengths. Was his character. He was honest. Fair. And civilized. In all the times. We were together. I never heard him say. Bigoted word about anyone. The American people saw this great quality most clearly during the 2000 campaign when that woman. Made an offensive statement against. Then senator Barack Obama. To me what was most impressive about John's reaction was that it was pure reflex. It was who John was he didn't need to consult. Anyone he immediately. Defended his opponent's name and honor. And thereby elevated for that moment our politics and and made us any more perfect union. Personally I could tailor John was a real friend. And accommodating what did him remark on usual practices. As they religiously observant Jew. Where there was walking whisked me on a Saturday. To an important meeting are turning down a popular. Friday night dinner invitation at the Munich Security Conference we went through every year because it was true for a war. We would stay in the hotel and have we're John learned to quo arsenal on shabbat dinners. Peaceful settlement senator's progress we Jon they weren't that peaceful. Jan naturally and doing these wonderful. Acts of French have grumbled all the way about what I was putting it through you know. Right now I think he's probably deriving some pleasure. From attractive and turned out to those journalists Obama senator and I had to walk through here. I'm sure you if if you were right now needs Tommy that there was divine justice. He. Ultimately. As he did worth. So much it was look if turned these interfaith experiences. Into a truly hilarious comedy routine. It began with a solemn pronouncement by John. That he was converted into Jews. Then he explained much less solemnly. I did his staff because of any particular liking for their religion. It's just that for so many years I've got to go along willow Joe's religious nonsense that I might as well converting get the benefits. One of his favorite targets was the savage elevators and is really hotels. Which are preprogrammed to stop it every floor. You know Jack I have many virtues but patience was not. They're Verizon or shabbat elevators were. Not to have his times we spent and should have there. I say this. Both to say the and stories. How full and genuine rulers. Sounds acceptance of my religious practices which are different. From what he knew but also to make alert your point because I can tell you and everything we did together around the world and here in Washington. And across America. He showed that seem. Acceptance. Respect. Curiosity. About everybody's religious observances in about everything I also about them that was different from himself. And his own experiences. I've said that patience was one virtue John didn't have. Forgiven this was a great virtue he did have. And here's a story to make that clear once on a trip to Hanoi. As we were touring the Hanoi Hilton a crowd of Vietnamese college students recognize John. And they began to chant wildly. Mack cane Mack came. They wanted to take his pictures and have them sign an order Europe's. When it was over. Ask them why he got such a rock star reception. In Hanoi. And where is classic directness and said well first source because. They've been taught. There was shade of a lot better here and I really want us. And second this because of the normalization of relations between the US and Vietnam. When I was a classic McCain understatement. Along with President Clinton. And John Kerry John McCain was the leader in congress. In bringing about the normalization. Of relations between the US and Vietnam an extraordinary. Act of personal forgiveness. When you consider what the Vietnamese did to him during his forever and a half years as a Prisoner of War. After his injuries in Vietnam he could not pursue. His ambitions in the navy. So we turn to government service. As is greater American clause. Presided nor John and his youth when I don't think from what I've heard that he was born with the natural skills of a legislator. And yet he learned them and became a great one. He knew when to be irascible and immovable and went to negotiate. And compromise to get something done. He regularly reached across party lines because she moved. That was the only way to solve problems. And seize opportunities. For the people of our country and his state. As a result his legislative record is extremely impressive. He also fought and lost some big battles. To stop climate change to close the gun show loophole. To broadly reform our immigration laws. But that never seemed to get them down. Or diminishes ardor for the next battle he loves to win but he also loved the good fight for a just cause. Even if it didn't succeed. Overall. He won many more the new arsenal all of his big wins. Were achieved with bipartisan support. In 2008. When John was the Republican nominee for president. He had this far our idea of asking a Democrat to be his running. Do you believe them. Let me explain it to you as he did when he first talked to me about it it's you know John I'm really honored. Whenever I see our you can do work even our won my last election is in them an independent. I'm still a registered Democrat. John's response was direct and really. And no blowing. That's the point show he says with a certain impatience. You're a Democrat. Palmer Republican. We could give our country. The bipartisan. Leadership it needs for a change. When Jack returned to the senate after his surgery US armor and voted against the Republican. Health care bill some people accuse them of being disloyalty was hurting and the president. But that was not the case. If you listen to this speech he gave that today you'll know is not the case in that speech made clear that his vote. It was not really against that bill. But against the mindless. Partisanship. That is taken control of both of our political parties and our government and produced totally. One sided responses. To complicated national problems like filth here. And a person's right. In his remarks last July but John also spoke eloquently. Of our position in the world of America's continued responsibility for principled leadership in the world it was as if he thought that might be one of his last missed opportunities. To move his colleagues in his country. It's a speech worst reading but I just want to point one sentence work greater horrors. Could we hope to serve them helping keep America the strong aspiring inspirational beacon of liberty. And dignity. And defender of the dignity of all human beings. To act in short. Was the McCain American foreign policy. Moral. Engaged. And strong. And again these words were not just rhetoric for John he acted on and he lived them in our. Travels around the world I can tell you he always reassured our allies. And on settled our enemies. Standing for America's best values attacking. Totalitarian. Governments whether in Moscow they ran Pyongyang or anywhere else. If we were going to a country that was not fully free. China insisted that we meet with the local human rights activists as well as the government. I will never forget that day. In Myanmar. During the military dictatorship there. We met three men. Who had just been released from political prism. And showed terrible signs of physical and psychological abuse. And yet they told us. That today would never have survived. If they had not heard in jail. That the great American Senator John McCain had supported their cause. Read their names on the US senate floor and demanded their release. On another occasion. We visitor refugee camps for Syrians who have been forced another country and to Turkey. For the brutal aggression of us the Iranians. And the Russians. We were the first members of congress to visit the camp and there was some concern about the reception we received. Earlier in the day infected official of the UN have been there and was booed and had shoes thrown at him. When we are. A large crowd. Of Syrian refugees. Had formed and was in fact chanting. Bar rather than Boeing and throwing shoes. They were cheering. And cheering cheering and chanting words of welcome. And thanks and the two words. They chanted most. Were John McCain. What is most remarkable. About these two stores. And I could tell you many more as hell on remarkable. There are. And that's because the name John McCain. Based on the actions of the man John McCain. Had become a source of hope and inspiration for oppressed. People throughout the world. As it was a source of security. For allied countries that share our values. One last story. One of John's favorite cities in the world was Jerusalem. And what of his favorite things to do. There was to stand on the balcony woodlands he admitted. Of our hotel looking out at the old city. And discussing all the religious and political history that it happened there over the centuries. So when I first told John that decided not to run for the senate again in 2000 twirled. He was puzzled and frankly even. A little bit angry. But then the next day he called me. And this is my best recollection of the conversations. You know I've been thinking. If you go out and to the private sector. You're gonna make some more money. And then UN Hadassah. Can afford to buy a second home in Jerusalem. That has an extra room for me. Well the balcony. Or week it looked out and talk about the city and its history. Since then wanted to talk to John. Or visited rhythm he would ask me. Joey. Have you made enough money at the by the listen Jerusalem. And I had answered not just Johnny. But I'm getting closer. Now. Sadly faith. Has intervened before we realize that dream. But I am. Comforted. By it affected Jerusalem is not just. A holy and historic city. It is also hope the visionaries symbol. Of the dreams. All people share. And the destiny. That we all desire it is. The original heavenly. Shining city on the hill and in that sense. For many people in the life of the spirit Jerusalem a shining city on the hill. Are really haven't. And it is too that heavenly. Jerusalem. Were I am confident the soul. Of John Sidney McCain the third is going now. And I want to imagine. That there's going to be O beautiful home waiting room there. With a balcony. From which he can contemplated. The shining suited. And hopefully. Inspire thoughts here on earth. To conduct ourselves was just some of the patriotism. Principals and herds that characterize. His magnificent. Life of service to America. And to so many noble causes greater than themselves. Godspeed dear friend. The angels. Sing you. To your eternal home.

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

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