None of the speakers at the North Phoenix Baptist Church on Thursday uttered Trump’s name. But Biden, who is considering challenging Trump in 2020, made what some saw as a veiled reference to the president. He talked about McCain’s character and how he parted company with those who “lacked the basic values of decency and respect, knowing this project is bigger than yourself.”
Biden said McCain “could not stand the abuse of power wherever he saw it, in whatever form, in whatever country.”
Longtime McCain friend Tommy Espinoza told the 3,500 mourners that “We all make America great,” a similar phrase to Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
The church’s senior pastor, Noe Garcia, pronounced McCain “a true American hero.”
Much of the proceedings were lighthearted, noting McCain’s penchant for battle.
Biden advised McCain’s friends and family to remember snapshots of him, such as a glance or a touch. “Or when you saw the pure joy the moment he was about to take the stage on the Senate floor and start a fight. God, he loved it.”
McCain’s longtime chief of staff, Grant Woods, a former Arizona attorney general, drew laughs with a eulogy in which he talked about McCain’s “terribly bad driving” and his sense of humour, which included calling the Leisure World retirement community “Seizure World.” When McCain and Woods arrived at the community to apologize, Woods said, they saw a resident near the entrance making an obscene gesture at them.
The service brought to a close two days of mourning for the U.S. senator and 2008 GOP presidential nominee in his home state.
At the end of the nearly 90-minute ceremony, McCain’s casket was wheeled out of the church to “My Way,” in tribute to a politician known for following his own path.
Trump and his wife, Melania, danced to the same song at the new president’s inauguration in 2017.