John McCain’s eulogy in Phoenix received a very special guest on Thursday. Former Vice President Joe Biden was on hand for events, according to reports from CNN, and gave a deeply personal eulogy for the senator, reminiscing on the times they shared as fellow senators while lamenting the division that exists in the current Senate, something Biden and McCain fought so hard against.
“We both loved the Senate,” said Biden as he spoke to the crowd gathered to pay tribute to the Arizona senator for one final time. “We both lamented, watching it change.”
Seeing Biden and McCain seated next to each other during heated debates in the Senate was a common sight throughout the more than 20 years that the two senators served together. Their relationship at one point was so close that in 1996 they were approached on separate occasions by members of their own respective parties to explain that it wasn’t the best visual during the divide.
“That’s when things began to change for the worse in America in the Senate. That’s when it changed,” Biden said, decrying the division between Republicans and Democrats that prevented reasonable debate, something that was common in Senate culture when Biden was first elected in 1973.
“It was always appropriate to challenge another senator’s judgment, but never appropriate to challenge their motive. When you challenge their motive, it’s impossible to get to go.”
McCain echoed a similar sentiment in one of his final speeches on the Senate floor in 2017, begging his colleagues to look towards compromise and to put the goals of the nation first. Biden remembered how even on McCain’s final day he led that same fight.
“What was he fighting to do? He was fighting to restore what you call ‘regular order.'”
Biden and McCain turned from friends to rivals once Biden accepted Barack Obama’s nomination as vice president to oppose McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008. Despite the heated debate and division of that race, Biden still considered McCain a brother in arms.
“The way I look at it, the way I thought about it was that I always thought of John as a brother. We had a hell of a lot of family fights. We go back a long way.”
Biden first met McCain as a young senator serving as the Navy liaison, while McCain was still serving. When McCain eventually became a senator, he and Biden traveled the world together as part of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and built a relationship based on the pair’s shared optimism for the world.
You can watch the entirety of Biden’s speech below.