Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a deeply personal eulogy for his friend John McCain on Thursday.
Speaking at McCain’s funeral in Phoenix, Ariz., Biden captured the imagination of the crowd from his opening line: “My name’s Joe Biden. I’m a Democrat and I love John McCain.”
Other speakers at the funeral included Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., who had developed what he called an “unlikely” friendship with the Senator, family friend Tommy Espinoza, and Grant Woods, a friend and the former Attorney General of Arizona.
Biden’s speech, however, stood out. Drawing on the tragedies suffered in his own life—the death of first wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972 and of his son Beau from cancer in 2015—Biden offered consolation to McCain’s family, calling his absence “all consuming.”
“I pray you take some comfort knowing that because you shared John with all of us your whole life, the world now shares with you the ache of John’s death,” Biden said.
But the bulk of Biden’s remarks were spent reflecting on a friendship that “transcended” political differences.
“I trusted John McCain with my life,” Biden said, later adding, “Whenever I was in trouble, John was the first guy there.”
The frontrunner of early polls for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Biden’s speech doubled as a fitting tribute to his friend and a rallying cry to Americans put off by the divisive politics of President Trump, who was not invited to the ceremony.
“I was thinking this week about why John’s death hit the country so hard,” Biden said, before adding, “I think it’s because they knew that John believed so deeply and so passionately in the soul of America.”
Biden portrayed McCain’s life as equal parts metaphor and inspiration.
“John’s story is the American story, grounded in respect and decency, basic fairness, the intolerance in the abuse of power,” Biden said.
But Biden also proclaimed that “McCain’s impact on America is not over,” and left the audience with another prediction. “To paraphrase Shakespeare, we shall not see his like again.”