tv Inside Politics CNN August 29, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT
it's just an incredible feeling to be in her presence. so i was able to thank her for giving me an opportunity that i wouldn't have had anywhere else, and for putting me in a position to live a pretty beautiful life. >> kelly sullivan, thank you for joining us. we appreciate it. >> thank you. thank you for joining me. "inside politics" with dana bash starts right now. ♪ welcome to "inside politics." i'm dana bash. john king is off. the primary race that trumps them all, a stunner in florida. a bernie sanders-backed african-american mayor is the democrats' surprise nominee for governor set to take on the republican who came from behind to win his primary thanks to an endorsement from the president. in another shake-up in the trump legal team. the president confirming what's been rumored for months. white house lawyer don mcgahn is on the way out.
and senator lindsey graham will be here to sit down with me and share his fondest memories of his colleague and close friend john mccain. lindsey, aren't you a lawyer? yeah, i am, john. you know the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? no, i don't. one say bottom dwelling scum-sucking creature and the other is a -- i'm going to miss these dumb jokes. >> you're looking at live pictures of the arizona statehouse where john mccain will soon lie in state on what would have been his 82nd birthday. much more on his life and his legacy including an interview with his dear friend senator lindsey graham in minutes but we begin with two primary races and a contrast between the old way and new way in politics. in arizona, the old way, two relative moderates winning their primaries but in florida, the new way.
the winning democratic candidate comes from the progressive left. the republican from the party's trump-loving right. andrew gillam, the democratic mayor of tallahassee surged to a surprise win in the democratic primary and republican donors thought democrat gwen graham would be the one on the ballot in november. but she would be the middle of the road foil to run against ron de santos. the former jag officer and ubiquitous fox news voice who rode on a trump endorsement came up from a 15-point poll number from behind and look at where he finished. 20 points ahead. instead, he's running against gillum, a progressive, but hardly battle tested. he'll be pitted against desantis who is a trump-hugging republican. >> the way the state of florida does good. the way the state of florida to be a leader again is not for us
to pray for somebody's else's defeat or demise but for us to figure out a way that we can create a boat that all of us can ride in because i truly believe that a rising tide does lift all boats. >> i did have support from someone in washington. if you walk down pennsylvania avenue, he lives in the white house with the pillars in front of it. and i was able to talk to the president. i want to thank him for his support. i want to thank him for entrusting me with viewing me as somebody who could be a great leader for florida. >> the starkness of the contrast means voters looking for a middle ground in purple florida aren't going to find one. also the drain the swamp fever of 2016 is still alive and thriving. florida is always important. that's probably the biggest political understatement of the century. but even more so now it will be looked at as a testing ground exploding with national
implications for the next presidential race in 2020. >> the number of the day to remember is 40. there is a 40-point swing for ron desantis. he was 20 points down before this president endorsed him and followed it up with a rally in florida on july 31st. and i can't think of a candidate in this country who has leaned in more to the presidential endorsement than ron desantis. >> here with me to share their reporting and their insights, jeff zeleny, perry bacon with 538, also the daily beast, jackie kucinich. hello, everybody. kellyanne conway is right. i mean, there are a lot of republicans who have leaned in pretty hard but desantis, he probably, forgive me, trumps them all. you're welcome. happy wednesday. and it was to his bep fit in a big way. >> no doubt about it. we talked in the midterm election that we shouldn't read too much about what it means in
2020. not in this case. this means everything. we're truly going to see the greatest arguments under way on both sides playing out in florida. florida is important because it has 29 electoral votes for 2020. it's important now because who the sitting governor is, is going to be important. it's going to be a test of maemmaemg messages here. a lot of democrats are nervous about this. they think he's too progressive. they think he's too close to the president. so it's a fascinating laboratory. but if you think about it, one thing is important to point out. independents have not had their say yet. it's a closed primary. when democrats voted yesterday, republicans voted yesterday, independents who were the most important from orlando to tampa, in the middle of the state and elsewhere have not weighed in yet. so that is key. i think there will be a lot of rushing to the middle on both sides in terms of messagewise. >> you have a candidate in desantis he spent a lot of time on fox news. and you heard a lot of that.
that that was primarily one of his strategies. the other thing that gillum had for him was a bunch of other candidates hacking away at each other the entire time and he was polling so low, they weren't really going after him. this is someone largely untested in a statewide race where we've seen this morning things getting nasty. it's not going to get any better. >> you mentioned fox news. i want to put something up that mark caputo who knows his stuff put on twitter. how desantis outfox ed after being endorsed december 22nd by president trump. desantis made 121 appearances. 121 appearances on fox and fox business, his campaign estimates it would cost the campaign $9.3 million to purchase that kind of tv time. >> adam putnam was here on the hill. you probably know him from that. he went down to florida.
bided his team. won the agricultural job. ran for re-election. he had done the right thing in politics and got swept and blown out. it wasn't even close at all last night based on fox news and donald trump. and it tells you desantis is mainly known for, he's been for defunding the mueller investigation which is how donald trump knows who he is. that's how he won he race. >> there's so many potential implications for this race. we'll see how it plays out and how candidates deal with the very bright spotlight that is going to be on them. it's going to be huge. both of them untested in that kind of national way, i think. but the question also that i've been looking at is authenticity because one of the big reasons why donald trump won is because he wasn't afraid to say things that other people wouldn't say. and that's true of both of these candidates in florida. i mean, gillum, he had said in
the primary, i want to get rid of i.c.e. which isn't in theory the greatest thing to say for a general election. no, i want to get rid of i.c.e. he's not backing down from any of his liberal positions. medicare for all and same goes for -- same goes for desantis, the republican. >> no question. also the "i" word, impeachment. he's not showing a away from that as a lot of democrats here in washington are, at least at the moment. but i do think the -- i think we're going to see a lot of adjustment for those independent voters. it has been an untested laboratory but we're only a couple months before early voting starts. >> that's right. >> so this is not a lot of time to, you know, readjust themselves, i guess. but i do think that, i mean, i think a lot of us outside florida will be talking about donald trump, bernie sanders. but inside florida, they're going to try to have the local issues as well. like gun control and other
things. also a senate race playing out. so florida now, as usual, the most important state midterm. >> i don't see these guys moving to the middle. this is going to be a base election. gillum is going to try to turn out young people, minorities. desantis is going to try to turn out people who love trump the most. trump is going to come down. i would say desantis should bring trump. >> before we go off what happened last night, i want to talk about arizona. that's the old way. you have two of the most moderate members of the house who are now going to run for the senate seat being left by jeff flake in arizona. and so that's a completely different ball game. it's the way it's traditionally done. so we're going to see both ways tested. >> absolutely. martha mcsalley who won last night had the benefit of running against two firecrackers in kelly ward and sheriff joe
arpaio. so two very fringy candidates that she was able to defeat. but we've also seen mcsally put yourself closer to trump. she wouldn't even say whether she voted for him or not in 2016. so we'll also probably see her get a little bit closer to make sure, even more closer, to make sure those voters come out. we'll see if kristen cinema who she's going to run off against. >> kirsten cinema, martha mcsally, two women. so whatever happens in november, there will be a woman in that senate seat which is noteworthy, i think. before we go to break, i want to note this campaign in florida promises to be very brutal. already today, democrats are heaving accusations of racism at desantis. the republican nominee gave an interview to fox news this morning in which he praised his opponent as charismatic but said gillum wants to implement a
socialist agenda. >> he is an articulate spokesman for those far left views and a charismatic candidate. i watch those democrat debates. none of those was my cup of tea but he performed better than therths people there. we've got to work hard to continue florida going in a good direction. let's build off the success we've had on governor scott. the last thing we need is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. >> so the florida democratic party called those words racist dog whistles. the desanesantis campaign said candidate was obviously talking about florida, not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that andrew gillum espouses. up next, the president makes a key personnel announcement, where else, twitter. minimums and fees.
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another top trump official is on his way out of the white house. counsel don mcgahn will leave the administration this fall. president trump confirmed the news himself in a tweet this morning saying he'll leave after brett kavanaugh is hopefully, as he says, confirmed to the supreme court. white house correspondent abby phillip joins me now. what is the significance of losing mcgahn? >> hi, dana. we knew that john mcgahn was probably leave thefg administration this fall. what makes this moment different is that we have just learned that don mcgahn had cooperated extensively with the mueller probe. 30 hours of testimony at the direction of the president who authorized him to speak but it became clear the white house wasn't certain that he had cooperated for that much time. the president was a little bit surprised to find out how long he was in there speaking to investigators. so that is the backdrop for what we are hearing now. but also the other part of this
is don mcgahn's role as someone who has been there for a lot of key moments that are now a part of this mueller probe. he was the subject of a presidential order to fire mueller which he refused to carry out according to some reporting from "the new york times." and mueller also was part of the president's efforts to get jeff sessions, the attorney general, to not recuse himself earlier in the administration. but there are also some republicans on capitol hill who are lamenting this for another reason as well. mcgahn played a critical role in getting many of president trump's judicial nominations into the senate and through that senate process. some republicans who are seeing this at the end of that era. he was a key figure pushing trump's transformation of the judiciary in this administration. so a lot of different fronts. this mcgahn news is really playing on. but i think one of the key points here is the backdrop of this is the mueller investigation and the role that we now know don mcgahn played in
this investigation that is still ongoing, dana. >> abby, thank you so much. and up next -- word that someone else within the trump organization discussed cutting a deal with prosecutors in the michael cohen case. the day after chemo might mean a trip back to the doctor's office just for a shot. but why go back there... when you can stay home with neulasta onpro? strong chemo can put you at risk of serious infection. in a key study neulasta reduced the risk of infection from 17% to 1%, a 94% decrease.
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sources tell cnn a second trump organization employee discussed a potential immunity deal with federal prosecutors in the michael cohen case. prosecutors ultimately decided against granting immunity to the employee whose identity could not be determined by cnn. we learned last week that allen weisselberg was granted immunity for providing information about cohen. "the new york times" is reporting that the former cia officer running for congress in virginia is accusing the gop superpac of improperly obtaining her federal security clearance application. democrat abigail spanberger says the congressional leadership fund is using the information for political purposes. the superpac which is aligned with house speaker paul ryan, denies the allegations. and a florida congressional candidate who hit tv screens with an ad pushing impeachment lost his bid for his democratic nomination. david richardson lost to donna shalala in a primary for a
representative ileana ro ross-lehtinen's seat. >> there's one word official washington doesn't want you to hear. it's [ bleep ]. it's [ bleep ]. it's impeachment. >> and up next, few people were closer to john mccain in the u.s. senate than lindsey graham. senator graham is going to be here to talk about his friend up next. >> the bottom line is, folks, that the people that he served 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 for his country, so be it. he would die for this country. i love him to death. it was here.
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saw is behind him, maybe. graham returned to the senate floor and stood next to the empty desk of john mccain. spoke for about 18 minutes about their bond, what mccain taught him, how deep his understanding of compromise is and how that must endure. and at one point, senator graham told his colleagues, if you want to help the country, be more like john mccain. >> he taught me that honor and imperfection are always in competition. i do not cry for a perfect man. i cry for a man who had honor and always was willing to admit to his imperfection. >> senator graham joins me live now. thank you so much for coming. i appreciate it. >> thank you. >> i was sitting in the senate chamber yesterday watching you deliver that speech, that tribute to john mccain. seeing you speak right next to
john mccain's desk, draped in that black garment, the white flowers, it twisted my stomach. i can't imagine what it was like for you. >> anybody that knew john. what hit me was the desk. i mean, you know, funerals are for a reason. they're for the living. they give us a chance to remember what we've lost and how we can cope with it. it hit me really hard when i saw the cloth over the desk because i've sat in that desk by him for years talking about everything under the sun. and that will be an empty desk. and my life is changed like everybody who knew john. i want to make sure what lies ahead for me that i learn from him and bring out the best in me trying to be more like him. >> when you announced your candidacy for president in 2016, i was there in your south carolina hometown. i learned more about your personal history. that your parents died 15 months apart. you were just 21 years old. and it strikes me thinking about
that, that mccain was kind of a surrogate father to you, surrogate big brother. >> let's break it down. i never did anything politically of consequence without john. so in the sense we had a political marriage. i've lost my partner here. all the big stuff, campaign finance, climate change, iraq, you name it. i was by john's side. i was his wingman. when i decided to run for president, he was there doing anything and everything. so it was not a political friendship. it was a real friendship. i admired him. i respected him. i came to love him. and what i'll have to do now is realize that the person i picked the phone up and call and ask a question about what to do or where should we go won't be there. >> that's what i kind of meant like almost a parent. >> well, my parents, my sister was 13. when my parents died, i have an aunt and uncle who helped raise
my sister, but i focused on her because it meant a lot, obviously, to my parents that she be well taken care of and it broke their heart that they were going to leave that task to me. so i just had something to focus on. and my sister turned out great, in spite of me. so what i have to focus on now? my job as united states senator and my time with john mccain to make sure what we cared about the most still front and center. john heard people that no one else listened to. i just met with ivanka today. what can we do in africa? africa is a place in peril but it's a great opportunity. i'm going to be a voice in president trump's ear if he'll allow me about why you can't leave afghanistan. what it takes to win. and try to be -- pick up the baton on human rights. something that, as you look inward, brexit and all these
sort of movements throughout the world, isolationist movements, they are dangerous because safety and security is never had within your borders. safety and security is had when you're outside your borders shaping the world. >> you talk about human rights. you've told so many stories about traveling the world with him. how many times did you go to iraq and afghanistan? >> that i can remember, 45. >> 45? >> going all over the world to places where people are yearning to be free that are being oppressed by their government. john had a romantic view of this nation. he was a hard-nosed idealistic person. but very practical. and i don't want to ever lose that. i don't want to become so practical and so centered about me and my position the world over that i don't hear the voices of others. the best thing we can do as a country for john mccain's memory is to engage the world, not retreat from it.
>> i want to play a clip from an interview back in 2012 that you, senator mccain and joe lieberman did together. the famous three amigos. >> thank god for joe. >> lindsey is a reserved colonel in the air force. he served as active duty. joe being a key member of the homeland -- the chair person of the homeland security committee and so we have a lot of common interests. common interests, common working together has built up a unique friendship over the years. >> one thing we had in common is we loved john, and john loved john. you know, i've said love and john mccain don't usually go in the same sentence, but it should. if he loved you and joe lieberman, i've talked to him a bunch. the band is still out there. we've got to get it reformed. but if you were loved by john
mccain, you felt it. man, this guy could let you know he -- you were appreciated better than anybody i've ever met. >> i want to ask you about that. you are the only amigo left in the senate. >> that's right. >> who are the next two or three or four? do you -- you talked about it in the context of a wing man. you were john mccain's wing man. who are your wing men or women going to be? >> marco. marco has john mccain's world view. joni ernst was the first female combat veteran in the history of the senate. tom cotton served in iraq. >> are those -- you feel confident they'll be willing to put country first over politics? >> really just jumped all in on north korea and i'm doing a russian sanctions bill and cory has taken an interest in foreign policy, particularly asia. there are a lot of people in the house who served in iraq and afghanistan that there's a thing called the maverick pact that john helped start where you invest in people under 40,
veterans component to it. so i'm going to try to stay involved with these folks. help where i can. but no one person will replace john. but all of us together, if we fight for that john mccain view of how to keep america safe and the strongest thing about america is our values, we'll be fine. >> i want to play another clip for our viewers of something you said on the senate floor yesterday. >> john taught us how to lose. when you go throughout the world, people remember his concession speech as much as anything else. there are so many countries where you can't afford to lose because they kill you. and john said that night, so he healed the nation at a time he was hurt. i learned that serving a cause greater than yourself hurts. anybody in the military can tell
you the risk you take. he couldn't put his jacket on. he couldn't comb his hair because he got hurt serving a cause greater than himself. >> senator, people who know i cover you as a journalist, know i know you, ask me more than anything else the following question. how can lindsey graham be the man and politician that john mccain was and strive to be even more so and play golf with donald trump, be there for donald trump and, frankly, sometimes, carry the water of donald trump. what's your answer to that question. >> it's pretty simple. if you know anything about me, i want to be relevant. i want to make sure that this president, donald trump, who i didn't vote for, ran against, is successful. we went to president-elect obama's side in chicago, john and i. what can we do to help you, mr. president? i regret the relationship between the two.
john is my dearest friend in the world and i'm going to try to help president trump. and i will because i think country first means that. and if he'll listen, i'll talk to him. i've enjoyed my time with him. when he says something bad about john, he called yesterday after my speech and couldn't have been nicer. he said that was very sad. i just want to let you know that you did right by your friend. i said, thank you, mr. president. >> the president called me? >> yes, right out of the blue. and to those who want me to say the only way you can honor john mccain is to fight donald trump and try to kick him out of office, i don't agree. i'm going to do what i think is best for the country using what john taught me about the country. this president has got to figure out syria. i know what john thought about syria. be nice if you could convince president trump that john was right about syria. >> senator mccain, you had a discussion with him. sought his advice on how to deal
with president trump. remember, we're cable, so you can tell me the answer, or tell me what he really said unvarnished. >> help him where you can but all the drama and the bs, watch it. a lot of people have been burned by being in trump's orbit. bottom line is, i just want to be a bridge to the extent i can be from the mccain world, the bush world, all the other worlds to the trump world so we can get good policy and keep this country safe. president trump has rebuilt the military in a fashion that john and i believed he should. he has done some things against isis that were long overdue. he's withdrawn from the iran nuclear agreement. so i want to give him credit where credit is due, and i literally, literally do want to help him. that makes somebody mad, i'll just live with that. i know what i need to be doing and i'm going to do it and how i do it. a lot of it comes from john. today is his birthday. this is the first time in a long time he is without pain.
happy birthday, john. you have earned everything you're experiencing right now, and i will be there sooner probably rather than later given my family's history. but between now and the time -- my time is up, i'm going to use every day, every hour and every minute to try and make this country stronger and safer and make this world better. and the best way i can do that is take the values of john mccain and mix it with the personality of lindsey graham and do something about it. rather than being an observer to history, i want to help shape it. >> let me show you something on the internet. i think we have it. you can put it on the screen. google maps. i know you're not big into technology. google is a search engine. and it also shows you maps. and that is one. check that out. on google maps, the russell building is already called the mccain office building. >> oh, really? yeah. >> well, mitch had a good idea. rather than any one person figuring out how to honor john, let's all get together.
i'd like to see if we can find a way to honor john big, not small, and see what the family feels about it. one thing i thought about is the first thing you saw when you got to the capitol was the life of john mccain, you'd be impressed. >> although he didn't like how much money was spent on that. >> he hated that place. >> it's my way of getting back at him. name something after him. he'd hate it. >> senator, thank you so much for coming. thank you for your remembrances. >> happy birthday, john. >> happy birthday, for sure. as we go to break, we want to show our viewers and you the latest cover of "people" magazine. the amazing life of an american hero. very well said. we're going to continue our special coverage remembering senator john mccain. you're seeing live pictures. the state capitol in arizona. stay with us.
gives you the strongest hold ever to lock your dentures. so now you can eat tough food without worry. fixodent and forget it. hello. i'm wolf blitzer. we want to welcome you to our special coverage of the memorial service for senator john mccain. so many words used to describe this man. hero, statesman, patriot and friend. mentor and maverick and for so many an inspiration. john mccain passed away on saturday, a victim of cancer. he was a respected senator and presidential candidate, a leader in the truest sense of the word. for the past 30-plus years, making his mark here in washington, a hard-charging senator who spoke his mind, fought the good fight doing his best to honor the people who put him there. that would be the people of arizona, honoring them by being a champion for honest discourse,
for fairness and for compromise. >> honor is, in my view, doing the right thing at your own expense. and he did that time and time again. >> during his overseas travels, so many war zones, checking in on members of the u.s. military. the american sons and daughters on the front lines of his country's conflicts serving as he had. and always remembering the sacrifice. >> they knew that no one had their backs more than he did. they knew that no one was doing more for them to ensure that they had the means to prevail. our troops loved him, and they knew that he loved them. >> personal sacrifice saw him spend 5 1/2 years in a north vietnamese prison camp, the
hanoi hilton, as they used to call it. shot down, tried to use him as a political pawn. he stood strongly with his brothers in arms. in the end, he wanted to be remembered for his efforts on behalf of america. >> i tried to deserve the privilege as best i can, and i've been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, with the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself. of being a bit player in the extraordinary story of america. and i am so grateful. >> a patriot. he's a flawed patriot who may not have always made the right decisions but always tried to do what was right for his country and his family and to do so honorably. today is the first ceremony leading up to john mccain's private burial on sunday. and it comes on what would have been the senator's 82nd birthday. the motorcade you're seeing live
pictures right now carrying the senator's casket will arrive over at the state capitol in phoenix, arizona, just moments from now. we're told maybe 10 or 15 minutes or so following the service, the public will be allowed into the capitol rotunda where the senator will lie in state. this will be a special chance for the people of arizona to honor senator mccain for his decades of public service to his state and to the nation. our correspondent stephanie elam is joining us from outside the state capitol. stephanie, set the scene for us as we watch these live pictures coming in of the motorcade making its way to where you are. set the scene about the details of today's ceremony. >> it would have been his 82nd birthday. a time to celebrate this icon of the state. this was a state he and his wife
chose to raise their family and pass away at his beloved cabin in sedona. he's making his way to the capitol here. if you look behind me, you can see that there are members of the military, of law enforcement that are lined up outside of the capitol building. they are here to honor the senator as he makes his way to the capitol. we understand that cindy mccain and the family will be following in that motorcade as well. when they arrive here, they'll be greeted by governor doug ducey. and the immediate family will come behind them. and then on the inside, once the private ceremony begins here, not too long after the top of the hour here, when that private ceremony gets under way, we should hear remarks from senators jon kyl, governor ducey and congressman colby, a vietnam veteran, is expected to play a role today. and the benediction will be given by senator jeff flake. and after those family members
and invited guests pay their respects later today at about 2:00 p.m. local time, they'll open the doors up to the public and allow everyone who wants to come and pay the respects to the senator to do just that. they'll keep the doors open as long as there are people in line. keep in mind this is a man who won six times to represent the state of arizona in the u.s. senate. it just shows you how well he use loved and there are people coming out here since before the sun was up, coming out here with their flags to remember him. and just to have that moment to thank the senator for all he did for the state of arizona, wolf. >> stephanie, we'll get back with you. we're showing our viewers these live pictures coming in from the state capitol and the motorcade moving toward the state capitol right now with senator mccain's casket. joining us now to access and take a close look at this amazing individual our cnn political commentator, former republican congressman from pennsylvania, charlie dent.
cnn military and diplomatic analyst, retired rear admiral john kirby. elaine povich is the author of "john mccain." and our chief political correspondent dana bash is with us as well. and dana, let me get right to you first of all because you've covered senator mccain for a long time. this is a special moment, and it's just the first of several moments that we'ill be taking place in arizona and in washington and finally in annapolis, maryland, at the naval academy. >> that's right. just watching the motor cade making its way to the state capitol, so many things running through my mind. the first thing is that arizona was and is the only home that john mccain ever knew. as admiral kirby, as you know as someone who came from a military family. he moved around. went to a different school
pretty much every year in his childhood because that's the way it works when you are in a military, in his case, navy family. and it wasn't until he married cindy mccain and really laid down roots in arizona and, of course, ran for the house first and then the senate, that he came to find and have arizona as his home. and he was in a really tough race when he first ran in the house. and the way he beat back his challenger who was calling him a carpet bagger by saying the longest he ever lived in one place was in the hanoi hilton when he was held prisoner because that's what happens when you're in a military family. from there on in, he was in that home state of arizona so much. did so much for the state and, of course, spent the last six months or more there at his favorite spot in his cabin near sedo sedona. >> he was diagnosed with a very severe form of brain cancer about 13 months ago. he went through all sorts of treatment. in the end, clearly, it didn't
work out. but he was very much involved in planning a lot of what we're about to see. >> very much. he -- my understanding is that he wasn't initially that enthralled with planning a funeral. this is before he got ill with cancer. but he was convinced by friends, friends like bob dole, who understands the idea of legacy and things like that. you know, john, you have to plan your funeral. you want to do it right, and you want to have your wishes known for your family and friends and colleagues. so he did. as we know, this is very detailed down to, you know, all of the specifics in terms of who is going to be there, what readings we will hear tomorrow in arizona and also saturday at the national cathedral and so forth. >> we're looking at live pictures on the left part of the screen. that's the arizona governor, governor doug ducey and the first lady of arizona. they'll greet cindy mccain, the mccain family who are now in
this motorcade heading towards the state capitol. elaine povich, you've spent a lot of time working on the biography of senator mccain. what goes through your mind as you watch this first of several memorial services that are planned? >> i think the first thing that i think of is that part of this he would have hated. i can just hear him make something wise crack about why are we doing four different ceremonies? i mean, really, one is enough. but i think part of him also would have not enjoyed exactly but understood what his presence in the pantheon of american politics meant and why he deserves such a lengthy, drawn out and poignant, if i can say, series of events around his life. >> john kirby, like you, veteran of the united states navy. you have special thoughts about this unique individual? >> i do. nothing i did in the navy even comes close. >> you achieved a higher ranking
than he did. >> but nowhere near the courage and bravery. no, i think of two things here. one is the impact that he had as a senator on the united states navy and the united states military through the legislation that he sponsored. of course, the culmination of that is the last defense bill named for him which funds the pentagon at higher levels than ever in history. he always made it a point in every hearing that i sat in the front row behind my boss who was testifying for him. always really tough questions. but always getting at the root of what the troops needed and their families. he never forgot the military families. the second thing i think about when i watch this motorcade is just the span of mystery that the mccain family has marked on our navy and on our world. his grandfather graduated from the academy in 1906. first went to sea with teddy rose vel roosevelt's great white fleet. got the navy cross, the second award only to the medal of honor, for saving two cruisers
attacked by the japanese in the pacific. his father also a four-star admiral and then senator mccain, what he has done in uniform and out of uniform for the united states navy. and now senator mccain's son is serving naval aviator. four generations of naval officers. you just can't put a price on that. >> we're told charlie dent, the motorcade is only a couple minutes from the capitol in phoenix, arizona. you got to know him as a civilian. he was a politician. a congressman. you got to know him as a legislator. >> i really had two -- i had several interactions with him over the last 15 years. two in particular stuck out. october 8th, 2008, just after the troubled asset relief bill was signed. we were at a rally in bethlehem, pennsylvania. he and i and cindy and my wife pam were behind stage just talking. it was such a tense time. we had both supported the program. seemed like the world was coming apart.
his campaign was in trouble. but he was just so calm. so peaceful. and it's like he's about ready to go on the stage and he was just -- it was almost a surreal experience for me. i'll never forget that conversation. also just a couple years ago had dinner with him and senator reed and durbin, with general miller at the marine corps barracks. and to see him operate. you could understand his commitment to the troops to the service members. but more importantly, you could see how he interacted with his democratic colleagues. and it was very similar, very constructive. just wonderful to be part of that. >> s.e. kupp is with us as well. you got to know him over the years and got to watch him over the years. i wonder what you're thinking right now. >> well, if i can be personal, i am thinking that my very good friend is in one of those cars.
and megyn, his daughter, has had a really tough year with all of this and this must be the culmination of all of that. and, you know, this family has had -- has had a lot of ups and downs through this awful illness, this awful disease. i hope as they're approaching this first of a number of incredible ceremonies honoring senator mccain that there's a sense of peace. that there's a sense of gratitude, that there's a sense that, you know, this is -- this is over. and as meghan said it is mourning now. the dream is over. it is mourning. and so, you know, i'm just watching, hoping that my friend and her family is feeling okay today. >> we are all hoping for meghan mccain, cindy mccain, all of the
mccains. this is a very, very difficult moment. certainly this will just be the start, though, over these next few days. jeff zeleny, our senior white house correspondent, is watching this. jeff, you got to know senator mccain. covered him for several years as well. and i wonder what you think as you watch all of this unfold. >> well, wolf, there's no question that senator mccain has been ill for, as we know, about a year. a little over a year or so. but i'm told by friends of his that his illness actually escalated fairly quickly. today on his 82nd birthday, a small group of his loyal friends i'm told were planning on being in sedona with him around him to say a bit of a farewell. of course, he died just a few days shy of his birthday. so that has a sense, talking to friends, how quickly this moved at the end of his life. but more than that, i think senator mccain would probably have a joke in this moment.
he would wonder what all the fuss was about, but also he choreographed this specifically right down to, he's sending a message through everything we're going to see over the coming days here, through the speakers, the pallbearers, others and particularly the two former presidents, the 43rd and 44th presidents of the united states who will eulogize him. he was rivals to both of them, but i'm told he called both of them earlier this spring and asked them to be at his funeral, which we know now will be on saturday after this service here in arizona. wolf? >> yeah, he will be buried sunday at the u.s. naval academy. there will be a service here in washington at the national cathedral saturday morning. the motorcade has now arrived at the state capitol. the arizona governor doug ducey, the first lady angela ducey. there's cindy mccain. the rest of the familiarly, she's being escorted by the u.s.