Sen. Jeff Flake: ‘It’s tough to imagine politics without John McCain’

Aug 26, 2018, 10:39 AM | Updated: Aug 27, 2018, 7:10 am

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake might not have always seen eye-to-eye with U.S. Sen. John McCain, but his presence surely impacted the senator.

“I’ve admired him my whole entire life and it’s tough to imagine the Senate without him,” Flake said as he choked up on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “It’s tough to imagine politics without John McCain, but we need to go on.”

Before McCain’s passing on Saturday, Flake, who has never known the Senate without McCain, spent time with the senator at his Sedona ranch. He called it a privilege to be in his presence.

“His voice was important, has been for years, but never more important than the past year,” Flake said of McCain. “It’s tough to have a voice like that silenced, this voice for civility, to put the country above your party. These are things that he taught for years and never more important than the last year.”

Back in February, Flake and McCain talked for an hour about Arizona politics and McCain’s thoughts on the U.S. moving forward.

“We sat out on the deck and reminisced about the old Arizona politicians that he knew and admired so much,” Flake said. “He expressed optimism at that time that leaders would rise up to the floor in the future and put the good of the country above themselves, so I think we ought to take that forward.”

Flake got to see firsthand of McCain’s “maverick” ways while in the Senate, even if that meant being on the other side of a vote.

McCain was one of just three Republicans to vote against repealing parts of Obamacare in July of 2017. He said after the fact that he voted in the negative because the bill did not do what politicians promised and called for a bipartisan solution.

“He spoke to the Senate at that time, about how we needed to come together and not just do things in a partisan way,” Flake said of McCain’s decision. “John McCain is quintessential Arizonan, he’s a maverick, he’s independent. I didn’t vote the same way he did, but I admired him for doing what he did.”

And while Flake is hoping to use what he learned from McCain, he will be the first to say it won’t be the same.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever see anybody who is like John McCain, I think he’s one of a kind,” Flake said on Meet the Press.

“I think we certainly can try to follow his example in seeing the good in our opponents and recognizing people may be on the other side of the aisle or have a different philosophy but they’re our friends and fellow Americans.”

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Sen. Jeff Flake: ‘It’s tough to imagine politics without John McCain’