- By Jessica Wehrman and Jack Torry Washington Bureau
Democrats and Republicans alike hailed Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona as an American patriot, with Sen. Sherrod Brown calling him an “American hero” and GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine saying “our nation is better off because of his service.”
DeWine, who served in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate with McCain, said “John never stopped giving back to the country he loved so dearly. He never chose a path because it was easy; he chose a path because he believed it was right."
DeWine was so close to McCain that the Arizona Republican traversed northeast Ohio in 2006, stumping in traditionally Democratic areas such as Mahoning County to stump for DeWine. He was greeted enthusiastically in places Republicans traditionally were usually shunned.
“The McCain family has lost their patriarch, Arizona has lost a long-time public servant, and America has lost a hero," DeWine said.
McCain died Saturday after a battle with cancer.
Brown, D-Ohio, who defeated DeWine in the 2006 election, said McCain "embodied our nation’s most cherished values: service and sacrifice. He was a leader to senators from both parties, a touchstone on foreign and domestic issues."
"Just as importantly, he made no secret of his love for his wife, Cindy, and his family," Brown said. Connie and I are thinking of them now. May their memories of this great man sustain them.”
The reaction from DeWine and Brown typified that of lawmakers from both parties who McCain made a point of working with on issues ranging from overhauling the campaign finance system to trying to prevent U.S. officials from relying on what McCain considered torture against suspected terrorists.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who McCain considered as a vice presidential possibility in 2008, said McCain was “a true patriot who lived the motto of his 2008 campaign: Country First. Always.”
Portman said McCain “was also a friend and someone I looked to for counsel. In the Senate, we relied on his expertise on national security issues, were inspired by his life’s story, and charmed by his sense of humor. He was a lion of the Senate, and the place will not be the same place without him.
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, said McCain “was the embodiment of honor and service. He is a hero and a role model to me and I will miss him dearly.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich tweeted that “few have served our country so well or so long,” while John Weaver, a longtime McCain adviser who now is advising Kasich tweeted: “The old lion roars in Heaven.”
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, tweeted that McCain “was a patriot who fought tirelessly for our country. Working with him was a true honor. His exemplary service and dedication will not soon be forgotten.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he will introduce a resolution to change the name of the Russell Senate Office Building to McCain. Russell was a legendary Democratic senator from Georgia.
Senate Republican candidate Jim Renacci called McCain “a true American hero who served his country, first in uniform and later in Congress.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, called McCain “a giant of our time,” while newly elected Rep. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, said McCain “set a tremendous example of sacrifice and patriotism.”
Former President Bill Clinton said McCain "believed that every citizen has a responsibility to make something of the freedoms given by our Constitution, and from his heroic service in the Navy to his 35 years in Congress, he lived by his creed every day."