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Trump Rejected Plans for White House Statement Praising John McCain; Remembering the Life and Legacy of Senator John McCain; Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 26, 2018 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: -- NATO and all of these countries' conferences around the world to say that the U.S. is still a reliable partner, a reliable ally and that U.S. leadership is indispensable. And that's why I think you see so many of these tributes coming in around the world. I don't know who was really going to carry that torch, Ana.

You see leaders like Lindsey Graham in the Senate, Marco Rubio, and he's also, you know, mentored a whole young generation of congressmen who might take up that mantel. But certainly his leadership is going to be felt for a long time to come.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: We have heard a lot of people call him their mentor.

Thank you, Elise Labott, we appreciate it.

Now 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 in the afternoon in Arizona, the home state of Senator John McCain. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for being with us tonight as we remember a senator and national symbol of heroism, integrity and basic human decency.

Flags around the country are flying at half staff to honor Senator John McCain who died Saturday at the age of 81 after a hard fought battle with brain cancer. In his 60 years of service McCain held many titles, official and unofficial. Fighter pilot, father, war hero and political warrior, a maverick who had a unique voice and knew how to use it.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I've stood in this place many times and addressed this president, many presiding officers. I've been so addressed when I've sat in that chair and that's as closest I'll ever be to a presidency but anyway.


MCCAIN: It's an honor, I think, we're almost indifferent to, isn't it? In truth, presiding over the Senate can be a nuisance, bit of ceremonial bore, and it is usually relegated to the more junior members of the majority. But I stand here today looking a little worse for wear, I'm sure. I have a refreshed appreciation for the protocols and customs of this body and for the other 99 privileged souls who've been elected to this Senate.


CABRERA: One of the men McCain served with was Senator Lindsey Graham. The two were the closest friends for two decades.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The bottom line is, folks, that the people that you serve with in jail will tell you the same thing in prison that I will tell you. He is loyal to his friends, he loves his country, and if he has to stand up to his party for his country, so be it. He would die for this country. I love him to death.


CABRERA: McCain died nine years to the day after another close colleague lost his battle with the same disease. Democratic senator Ted Kennedy also had brain cancer and after his death McCain said the place wouldn't be the same without him. And now the same is being said about McCain.

Presidents Obama and George W. Bush will deliver eulogies at McCain's funeral next week. One person who won't be there, President Trump. The two men had a contentious relationship. And we are just now getting some breaking news about this. The "Washington Post" reporting that President Trump rejected plans for a White House statement praising McCain.

For that I want to bring in White House reporter for the "Washington Post" and CNN political analyst Josh Dawsey. He's joining us by phone.

Josh, what are you learning?

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Ana. So what I'm learning tonight is that the White House has prepared a draft statement labeling John McCain, the Arizona senator, a hero and service for release. And instead of releasing the statement the president nixed it and said he preferred to tweet instead. And he tweeted condolences for the family without giving any of the laudatory praise and any of the compliments that the White House statement was going to give John McCain.

And this caused some ripples in the White House. You've seen in the past 24 hours or so a number of senior officials, the secretary of State, the National Security adviser, the vice president, others have put up statements calling John McCain an American hero, praising his service. You know, saying kind and generous things about him.

We have not seen that from the president. And when given the opportunity to release an official statement from the White House the president said he did not want to do that.

CABRERA: In face we're putting up the president's statement that he tweeted out. "My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you." It was short, it was sweet. There was no mention of John McCain's service to this country. President Trump was told he wasn't invited to the funeral.

Josh, for those who don't know, explain the root of this public feud between the two.

DAWSEY: Sure. So there is deep animosity between the two men. Back in 2015 if you remember President Trump said -- then candidate Trump said that John McCain in his estimation was not a war hero.

[20:05:03] He said he preferred his heroes to not be captured and John McCain was captured. Those comments at the time that felt cataclysmic for his candidacy but they turned out not to be, obviously. Later on John McCain and the president feuded in 2016 over a Gold Star family. The president quarreled for several days with a Gold Star family. John McCain rebuked them.

Once he came into office the Trump administration, McCain has been a persistent critic on a number of fronts. Recently he criticized the administration over Russia and the president's press conference in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin. He said he thought it was a deplorable performance. He has been critical of the president's rhetoric on the news media, asking him to tone it down. And the president has not seen John McCain as a friend.

He was deeply frustrated when John McCain voted no on refuting the Affordable Care Act. You remember there was that iconic scene when John McCain went to the floor, put both thumbs down, and scuttle a vote, an accomplishment for the Trump administration. That's what they were trying to do is repeal the Affordable Care Act and that cost him.

After that, the president wanted John McCain privately to resign. He said he is not in Washington. He's in Arizona. He should let someone else take his seat. And the two men have not had any sort of meaningful interaction.

Now part of what's interesting is that, you know, John McCain has agreed with the president on a number of fronts. He voted for Gorsuch, the Supreme Court nominee last year, the tax bill, he's supported more Defense spending. When the president was in Fort Drum last week to talk about the Defense bill that had John McCain's name on it, the president did not mention him, even though he was signing the John McCain bill for Defense spending.

So the two have a checkered relationship to say the -- to say the least, excuse me. One interesting part is that Chris Ruddy, who's a longtime friend of the president, and an astute observer of Trump world, told me that back in 2008 President Trump actually liked John McCain and supported him in his presidential bid, said he was different, he was a maverick, and he liked him. So once the president entered the arena and the two men began disagreeing on a number of fronts, there's been no love since.

CABRERA: What do we know about how McCain viewed the state of the country under President Trump?

DAWSEY: Well, John Weaver, one of McCain's longtime aides and allies, said to me today that he saw it as dark and that he even saved some of his sharpest criticism because he didn't think it was best to say it publicly. He certainly was no fan of the Trump presidency. He did not like the president's tendency to be kind to autocratic leaders, of Putin. He had questions about North Korea and his policies there. He was not -- he did not think, and he says conversations of people around him that the Trump presidency was taking the country in the right direction. And I think he made that pretty clear in his most recent book where he said he didn't understand what motivated the president or he didn't understand why the president did many of the things that he did.

CABRERA: Josh Dawsey, thank you for sharing your reporting with us. Good to have you with us this evening.

And this hour we'll much more on the life and the legacy of Senator John McCain including his impact on U.S. foreign policy and the indelible mark he left on the nation's capitol.

My next guest slept side by side with Senator McCain in Hanoi Hilton for nearly 18 months. Hear his remarkable stories about the man he called his lifelong friend. Stay with us.


MCCAIN: It does make you appreciate every minute of every hour of every day. We should all thank God for every minute because we are blessed. And we're blessed to be on the greatest nation on earth.



[20:12:57] CABRERA: Tributes continue to pour in for the late Senator John McCain especially in his home state of Arizona. McCain's image gracing the front pages of newspapers all across the state today. Outside his office in Phoenix, flowers and candles honoring his legacy of courage and sacrifice. Phoenix will host the first of three services memorializing McCain.

And Kyung Lah is there now and joins us live.

Kyung, what kind of reaction are you seeing from people there in Arizona?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we're seeing a twofold reaction, first from the general public but also from candidates who are running in races this week.

There is a primary this week on Tuesday. I want to get to the public first because we found this quite extraordinary. Yesterday as the hearse carrying the senator's body out of the Arizona ranch that he loves so much, as it wound all the way down here to Phoenix. This is about 100 miles that the hearse had to drive. This was not publicized anywhere. No one knew the route. But people

were watching the local news. They came out to wave at the hearse to say good bye. As the hearse pulled into the funeral home there were people who were waiting there. It was more than 100 degrees. People waving flags, there have been people stopping by the funeral home throughout the day, small groups, just to leave flowers, to say thank you to Senator McCain.

As far as what's happening on the campaign trail, as I mentioned, the Arizona primary is on Tuesday. The Democratic candidate, the woman who is the frontrunner for the Democratic Senate -- the Democratic nominee for Senate, (INAUDIBLE) Cinema, she just announced that she will be stepping off of campaigning on Wednesday and Thursday so that she can spend some time giving back to John McCain.

This is a -- both sides of the aisle, Ana, are stopping to say thank you to this man who surpassed politics in the state and really truly just represented Arizona -- Ana.

CABRERA: We know McCain actually planned his own funeral while he was still alive. He requested that he be eulogized by George W. Bush and President Barack Obama as well, the man who beat him in his two bids for the presidency.

[20:15:04] What can you tell us about McCain's process in planning his funeral?

LAH: And notably he specifically asked that Trump not attend. That the president not attend This is going to be a weeklong remembrance of Senator McCain. And it's going to begin here in Phoenix. You can see that the area that I'm standing in is the Arizona capitol. And the flags that are just off to my right here, the state flag, U.S. flag. They are lowered. And they are lowered in honor of Senator McCain.

The services will begin here on Wednesday. First a private ceremony will be in the rotunda here at the capitol. And then because senator lived such a public life there will be six hours for the public to come here and say farewell.

Thursday morning there will be a public memorial service at a Phoenix Baptist church and then the senator departs for D.C. On Friday the senator will lie in state at the U.S. capitol rotunda. On Saturday there will be a national memorial service at the National Cathedral and on Sunday Senator McCain will be laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Ana, it is a place where he started his public service, his governmental service. It will be his final resting place -- Ana.

CABRERA: Kyung Lah, in Phoenix, Arizona, for us, thank you.

Senator John McCain was a highly decorated military officer. He was honored by the U.S. Navy no less than 20 times including the Naval Aviator Badge, the distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart. Senator McCain will forever be remembered for the torture he endured

as a prisoner of war in Vietnam at the Hanoi Hilton. That's the name American POWS gave to that prison that held him captive.

And the next guest slept side by side with Senator McCain in the Hanoi Hilton for nearly 18 months. The two war heroes became lifelong friends. Here they are together in much happier times.

Orson Swindle joins us now via Skype, from Orson, Colorado.

First, sir, thank you for your service and sacrifice for this country.

ORSON SWINDLE, SHARED A CELL WITH MCCAIN AS VIETNAM POW: Thank you very much. It's minor compared to the others.

HARLOW: What went through your mind when you learned your dear friend had passed away?

SWINDLE: Grief. Of course, it was not unexpected, as we all know. But the suddenness caught me completely by surprise. I was watching nothing, just took a break from looking at the computer and bang, it hit the screens and I must confesss that some Marines do cry. So I had a good cry.

CABRERA: It's hard not to. He was a man who touched so many. You were a prisoner of war in Vietnam alongside John McCain. So you had very special bond and a very unique shared experience. You shared a cell for more than a year. What was that like?

SWINDLE: Well, you know, I knew who John McCain was, obviously from the propaganda. We got our plane shot down, I was there a year longer than John. And then of course, being a Marine, we knew about the McCain family and their heritage in the Navy. So I knew who he was but I had never met him. And we had an inauspicious meeting by talking to each other blindly down the hall. And he insulted me with a funny joke. And we lived together for that 18 months or so and slept side by side.

And he is just an incredible human being, one of the interesting personalities I've ever met in my life, extremely smart, extremely well read, he remembered everything he ever read. And we shared story after story after story. And I might add he was one hell of a courageous naval aviator and American patriot.

CABRERA: Yes, we've spoken to a lot of people who bring up his sense of humor. It sounds like he maintained that even while he was imprisoned?

SWINDLE: He was always engaged. I don't think I had ever been around him except perhaps at a funeral of a friend, but the day that John was not -- his sense of humor was not in play is just his way of easing tensions, winning the affection of people and showing affection for people. His humor was directed at people he loved. And he did a lot of that. CABRERA: You have said that John McCain is one of the people you

thank for surviving your time at the Hanoi Hilton. What kind of support did he provide?

SWINDLE: Now he was the kind of a person that added levity to a bad situation. And I think his ability to inspire people by his own conduct, his sense of humor was always the levity we needed in dark times. And we weren't there together in the darkest of times. But they were not really bright times, I might add.

[20:20:03] We've been away from home for a very long time. And John's penchant for conversation, he knew so much about so many things. And you can engage him about just about anything in the world. He was good for morale, always good for morale, and always upbeat and as I said quite the patriot. His knowledge of American history staggered me. I got to know him. He just really loved this country and its people and our history.

CABRERA: I understand you and John had a very long friendship after you were freed. What did that look like?

SWINDLE: Well, I was speaking to one of your producers, I guess, and during the last moment when I was with him they were separating us by date of shoot down. And I was shot down a year early so I was going to be getting out before him. And I said something very insulting to him and teasing him. And he was just stunned that I said it as I'm walking away, and I turn around, I said, I'll see you in the States when we get home. And as fate would have it, we both came home to the Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, the naval hospital there, and I was at the bottom of the staircase when he walked down that staircase out the airplane to say, hi, John.


CABRERA: And so casual like just another day in paradise. Right? How do you think his time as a prisoner of war shaped him later in life and his career in public service as a lawmaker?

SWINDLE: You know, I don't -- I didn't have any personal knowledge of John before I met him in prison. He told me so much of his young life as a student or a midshipman at the Naval Academy and how he accumulated multiple demerits, his antics, his experiences and then when he began flying and I heard many stories about his -- he simply I don't think was a serious guy back in those days. And he admitted it.

He matured in prison. As he would say frequently he grew up in prison and he became an American totally in love with his country. And I think it's a very apt description. He just summed it up pretty well. And from that moment on when he came home it was a different kind of John McCain, certainly the affable personality, the intellect, it was all there except he had a purpose that solidified all of his many talents that he was going to be a great American.

And it didn't surprise me in the least when he told me he was going to run for Congress. I thought he was a natural and then of course, he spent time as Senate liaison for the Navy and got to know a lot of political figures. And it was the ideal place for him to go. And he spent a remarkable career I think pressing for human rights all over the world, strong advocate for strong defense. He loved our military. And I think they loved him, too.

CABRERA: For sure. And you mentioned his time in Congress, six terms as a U.S. senator. Of course he ran for president twice. You supported Senator McCain during his 2008 presidential campaign. Even cast a vote for him at the Republican National Convention that year. Tell us why you believe he would have made a good president.

SWINDLE: Well, I thought his opportunity for winning was better against Governor Bush at the time. I thought his possibility of winning the presidency against Al Gore was super outstanding. I don't think Al Gore in that period of time could hold a candle to John McCain with their backgrounds. I also was firmly of the belief even though many consider him the hawk, I think he would not have gotten us into that mess with Iraq in the manner that we got involved.

It was a costly mistake for many, many reasons. And I think John would have been a little more cautious on that. I think he would have been a great president as I said. His intellect was superb. He knows his history, and I think you've got to know history to be a great leader of our country. It's just that to me a given. You've got to know why we are who we are and how we got to be who we are. And I think --

CABRERA: Orson Swindle, thank you so much. It was such a pleasure to talk to you. We appreciate you sharing your memories and your thoughts about Senator John McCain, your friend. Again thank you for your service.

SWINDLE: Thank you.

CABRERA: No doubt.

My next guest worked for some of McCain's greatest political opponents. Up next, what it was like to run against the maverick of the Senate, John McCain as a political opponent next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


MCCAIN: What an ingrate I would be to curse the fate that concludes the blessed life I've led. I prefer to give thanks for those blessings. And my love for the people who blessed me with theirs. The bell tolls for me. I knew it would.

[20:25:02] So I tried as best I could to stay a part of the main.



CABRERA: Some breaking news tonight. The "Washington Post" reporting that President Trump rejected a White House statement that would have praised the service and heroism of the late Senator John McCain. Now the paper reports Trump instead opted to release this brief tweet. "My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you." The president is not invited to attend McCain's funeral next week.

[20:30:01] Before he died, the Arizona senator asked Presidents Obama and President W. Bush, two men who at different times, kept him from the presidency, to eulogize him.

I want to bring in Republican strategist Alice Stewart.

Alice, you've worked for candidates who ran against McCain in the past. Boy, what a difference between John McCain, arranging for his political rivals to speak at his funeral, and President Trump on the night McCain dies reportedly nixing a statement praising his contributions to this country. Your reaction?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's just a sign of respect, respect between Senator McCain and former President Obama and former President Bush. And clearly, that doesn't happen with our current president. And if you look at the statement that we heard last night from former President Obama it's so touching to hear him say that despite our political differences we did have an allegiance and a fidelity to something much greater, something much higher, something outside of ourselves.

And that goes a long way. And we hear the same kind of sentiments from Republicans and Democrats across the aisle because Senator McCain was a man of courage. He was a fighter. He was someone that was steadfast and did what he thought was right. You may not have agreed with him but at the end of the day he always stood by what he thought was right. And this goes back to when he was serving, you know, as a POW.

The man you just spoke with talked about how he could have gotten out of being held hostage, he could have gotten out but he knew that wasn't the right thing to do and he wanted to stay true to his honor to the military. And he did the same with his service to our country. And I am honored to have known him and have had to come across him on the political landscape. And he is someone that I tremendously respect, others do, Republicans and Democrats. And it is very, very disturbing that we don't get the same out of this White House. It is very upsetting.

CABRERA: What was McCain like as a political opponent?

STEWART: He was all that that I just said, serious, hard hitting, fierce. But he was also very funny. One of the things that stands out often with me is during the 2008 presidential campaign as we were preparing for debates and I was with Governor Huckabee, Senator McCain would often come in the green room and practice his jokes and one liners that he was going to do on the debate stage with us.

And, you know, kind of get some feedback and sometimes Governor Huckabee would walk him back just a little bit, saying that's a little too harsh because I won't mention any names but there was one person that was often the subject of a lot of that. But he was a funny person. And the rough and tumble world of politics is a blood sport. But it is often nice to have someone like Senator McCain who realizes at the end of the day you check your politics at the door and you're friends with the people that you deal with.

And you may disagree on policy but you agree on the reason that you are there, and the principle that you are fighting to serve this country. And that is something if we don't get anything else out of this I hope and pray that people across this country, voters and those that are serving in office, realize that we can have civil discourse. We can disagree but let's do it with respect, let's do it with dignity, let's do it with honor. And I hope that his legacy will teach us all that that is the way that politics should be done.

CABRERA: Alice, you mentioned that he's going to have three different memorial services including the first one there in Arizona. We've seen the hearse already leaving his property at his ranch. We were live last night as they were doing sort of a beautiful moment where they were driving around with this procession.

I understand you actually spoke to some of the troopers who escorted McCain's hearse? What did they tell you?

STEWART: Yes, Ana, when you were playing this video last night, it is so compelling. I mean, look at that. There is Senator McCain in there and those troopers providing that escort. It's just so compelling. And I reached out to some folks that I knew on the Arizona Department of Public Safety on what that feels like, and they were tremendously honored to be able to provide this service.

And they do this often for people in their line of work. But they said to be able to escort Senator McCain, someone who has been such a hero to them and someone that has served not just their state but this country with such honor and dignity they say as someone who wears the badge as the Arizona state trooper it was tremendously very prideful for them to make sure that Senator McCain got the respect that he deserves in getting to his final resting place.

So it is truly a humbling sight to see, but one that our law enforcement from now until Senator McCain is laid to rest, a lot of those men that are making sure he gets the respect he deserves are doing so with great pride.

[20:35:05] CABRERA: Alice Stewart, good to see you, my friend. Thank you for being with us.

STEWART: You, too, Ana. Thank you.

CABRERA: Before John McCain became a political maverick and a presidential hopeful he was this man, a pilot in the U.S. Navy serving his country. More about McCain's military legacy next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:40:23] CABRERA: We're following breaking news out of Florida where a shooting at a video game tournament in Jacksonville left three people dead including the gunman. The shots can be heard on a live streaming cast. And we warn you, it is disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- out today. Excuse me, not an easy out -- excuse me.



CABRERA: In addition to the two people killed, nine people sustained gunshot wounds and two others were injured while fleeing.

It happened at this shopping and dining complex in the downtown area. Police identified the attacker as a 24-year-old man from Baltimore. The sheriff says he was in town for a gaming competition and according to the sheriff he used at least one handgun ultimately turning the weapon on himself at a nearby restaurant.

Pope Francis today stunning the world with his silence. The Pope refusing to confirm or deny shocking new claims from a retired Vatican ambassador. The ex-ambassador calling for Pope Francis to resign alleging he knew back in 2013 about sexual misconduct allegations against former Washington archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and rehabilitated him anyway.

Now the pontiff declaring, quote, "I won't say a single word on this." Pope Francis today wrapping up a trip to Ireland and then heading back to the Vatican.

He was a senator for more than three decades and a presidential candidate twice. But before he was senator and presidential candidate John McCain he was Lieutenant Commander John McCain in the U.S. Navy who served his country as a fighter pilot.

During the Vietnam War his plane was shot down and he was captured as a POW. Despite suffering debilitating injuries McCain continued his service as the Navy's Senate liaison and he served in the Navy for 23 years before retiring in 1981 as a captain.

The Naval Air Forces honoring McCain today tweeting, "A man who served his country up until his last days, a true patriot, an American hero. Rest in peace, John Sydney McCain III."

CNN's military analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling is joining us now.

Lieutenant, good to have you with us. What does John McCain mean to you and others who have served or are serving currently on behalf of our country?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Ana, good evening. And what I'd say is he had a special connection with those in the military because I think more than any other politician he certainly understood who we are and what we did. I only had limited engagements with him a couple of times. I was able to talk with him, escort him around in a combat zone and then describe some things that were going on in Europe when I was commanding there.

But he had a very insightful way of understanding not only the tactics of situations but also the strategic requirements of different situations that affected the military. He loved the soldiers, sailors, air men and Marines, all branches of service. And he was hard on the senior ranking folks.

I'd tell you, he was often a very tough brief when we had to give him information when he would come to visit. All those things make for trust, though. And that's really the cornerstone of any kind of military relationship, when you trust the civilians who have the authority over the military.

CABRERA: You mentioned him coming to visit when you were serving overseas. He made several trips abroad to regions where the U.S. was actively engaged in military operations, some of the most dangerous places in the world.

Do you think McCain's passion and his dedication was unique in that way?

HERTLING: Right, he was. And what I'd tell you, I told this the story on Twitter today about how he visited us in Mosul. And I did everything in my power, because we had some pretty active combat operations going on in Mosul during the surge, I asked my bosses hey, don't send us any congressional delegations, any co-dels, try and keep them in the other parts of Iraq because we've got a lot of things going on and I didn't want to deal with them and I didn't want to have the soldiers deal with them.

But a bevy of them were coming over continuously. And McCain said he is going to Mosul. And I tried a couple of times to stop that and redirect him to other places, and I guess someone told him that I did that. So as soon as he stepped off the plane he said, so, General, I understand you don't want me to see Mosul. I said no, sir, it's nothing like that, it's just that it's pretty tough combat environment up here and I don't want to take you around. I don't think you belong out there.


HERTLING: And he said that's exactly why I came up here. And we did, we took him around and he engaged with my counterpart, an Iraqi three- star general and he also engaged with a lot of the command sergeant majors to get a feel for what the soldiers were going through.

[20:45:09] CABRERA: To young members of Congress or young people in the military, what can they learn from McCain?

HERTLING: Well, first of all, you've got to be where the action is, you've got to have an understanding of what goes on when you send young men and women into combat, understanding the strategic environment. And I think Senator McCain also grew after that experience because I saw him later in Europe on multiple occasions and he had kind of taken up the habit of bringing other people from both sides of the aisle, other senators and congressmen, with him on these congressional delegations and having observed him in a couple of engagements what he was doing,

He was training the younger senators and the younger congressmen the kinds of things they should be doing and how they should lead by walking around, getting a feel for the environment, see what is really happening, just don't sit in Washington and have the perfect intelligence come in under nice lights and air conditioned offices.

He wanted them out in the field, he wanted them seeing what was occurring so they can make better judgments about the strategies and the policies of the United States government.

CABRERA: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, always good to see you. Thank you for your service.

HERTLING: Thank you, Ana. I appreciate it.

CABRERA: We're back in a moment.


MCCAIN: I'm very happy with my life. I'm very happy with what I have been able to do. And there's two ways of looking at these things. And one of them is to celebrate. I am able to celebrate a wonderful life and I will be grateful for additional time that I have.



[20:51:08] CABRERA: Welcome back. Tributes continue to pour in from across the nation after Senator John McCain lost his hard fought battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Nowhere is McCain more beloved than his home state of Arizona. Arizonians waving American flags as the hearse carrying McCain's body made the slow processional to Phoenix last night. He was elected senator here for six consecutive firms.

Arizona's other Republican senator Jeff Flake got emotional as he talked about his friend and colleague with our own Jake Tapper earlier today.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I admired John McCain my entire life. I haven't known Washington or politics without him. So he's left an indelible mark and just putting, you know, the good of the country above your own self-interest, I think that that was his mantra and whether it's his approach to the current administration or his approach in general, I think that that's something I'd certainly learn from him and we can all learn in these days and seeing the good in your opponents, that, you know, the fact that George W. Bush will be speaking at his funeral or he was asked to, a person that defeated him. Also Barack Obama. That says all that we need to know about John McCain, that his opponents love, admire and respect him. That's something that we can all strive for. TAPPER: I want to play for you a clip from Senator McCain talking

about you on the Senate floor after you announced that you would not run for reelection. Let's take a listen.


MCCAIN: One of the great privileges of my life has been to have the opportunity to know you and serve with you. When the Flake service to this country and this Senate is reviewed, it will be one of honor, of brilliance and patriotism and love of country, and I thank you and God bless you and your family.


TAPPER: What's it like to hear those words today?

FLAKE: It's tough. I'm going to miss him.


FLAKE: I have admired him, like I said, my entire life and it's tough to imagine a Senate without him. It's tough to imagine politics without John McCain but we need to go on.


CABRERA: John McCain remembered for his heroism but also known for his humor. Next, the comedian in the Senate when we come back.



[20:58:12] MCCAIN: Are you someone who likes fine jewelry and also respects a politician who can reach across the aisle? If so, you can't go wrong with McCain-Feingold.

We've talked about it. I told him, maverick I can do, but messiah is above my pay grade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does it make you feel, knowing that voters may reject you because they feel you're too old to be president?


MCCAIN: There's a statute of limitations on Sarah Palin questions. And by the way, thanks for keep mentioning about me losing. I appreciate that. I have this line, after I lost, I slept like a baby. Sleep two hours, wake up and cry, sleep two hours, wake up and cry.

Being a friend and colleague of Barack, I just called him that one. He doesn't mind at all. In fact, he even has a pet name for me. George Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any advice for Donald Trump?

MCCAIN: I gave up on that some time ago.

I don't want to talk about the bleeping campaign, understand? If you think I'm going to go back to that bleeping situation, then bleep you.


MCCAIN: Thanks for the question, you little jerk.


CABRERA: Thank you for being with us. Stay with CNN. First it is the CNN premiere of "JOHN MCCAIN, FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS." Followed immediately by Dana Bash's exceptional CNN special report, "JOHN MCCAIN, MOMENTS THAT MADE THE MAN."

I'm Ana Cabrera in New York, It has been a weekend of reflection. Thank you to all of you who shared their stories of an amazing man, and to you at home for spending part of your weekend with us. The CNN premier of "JOHN MCCAIN FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS," starts right now.