In an emotional speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) paid tribute to Sen. John McCain, his long-time friend who died over the weekend.
“I have been thinking about this. I have been dreading this. And I am now going to do this,” Graham said before delivering his hand-written speech, which drew the attendance of his Senate colleagues, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
Graham talked somberly and at times gleefully about one of his closest friends, recalling all the “dumb jokes” that he’s going to miss hearing McCain tell him.
“‘Lindsey, aren’t you a lawyer?'” Graham remembered the Arizona senator joking. “‘Yeah, I am John.’ He says, ‘You know the difference between a lawyer and a catfish?’ ‘No, I don’t.’ ‘One is a bottom dwelling scum sucking creature and the other is a fish.'”
“I’m going to miss these dumb jokes,” Graham said, wiping tears from his eyes.
Graham described McCain’s life and service to the United States as “Operation Maverick,” which “began in the fall of 1954 and it ended the 25th of August, 2018.”
“I will say something about it and damn the consequences.”
“I learned that failure and success are the different sides of the same coin, that John told me, I have become better from my failures,” he added. “He failed a lot but he never quit. The reason we’re talking about him today and the reason I’m crying is because he was successful in spite of his failures.”
“So my friend, you did good. You lived in the shadow of a four-star father and a four-star grandfather. You always worried would you disappoint? You did not.”
Following the South Carolina senator’s speech on the Senate floor, Graham talked with reporters about McCain and what his absence means for the Senate and American politics moving forward.
Graham, like McCain, hasn’t been shy about pushing back against President Donald Trump, and offered a blunt warning to the president while admitting that it had been “challenging” to be close to both men.
“He said help him where you can just don’t get sucked into all this bull shit,” Graham said regarding what advice McCain gave him on working with the president. “So I’ll help him where I can and not get sucked into all the other drama.”
“I’m going to stay close to this president if he’d let me,” Graham added. “I’m going to give him my advice about what he should do and shouldn’t do. I will do it politely.”
“But if I see a drift back to the old ways, I will say something about it and damn the consequences.”
Graham also told reporters, when asked about the void McCain’s death leaves, that he hopes his colleagues will work to be more like his old friend. “If we all like John so much why don’t we be more like him? Including me,” he said.
Graham was also asked about how the Senate could honor his longtime friend, especially considering that Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is set to introduce legislation that would rename the Russell Senate office buildings after the late senator.
“I don’t know, I’d name the Capitol after him if I could. But I want to talk to Cindy and see what they think,” Graham said.