CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — As political figures from across the nation reflect on the legacy of Sen. John McCain, Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed is pausing to remember a man he called a colleague, friend and a true American hero.
“He will go down as one of the most influential and historic figures in the United States Senate,” Reed said.
McCain, a war hero and two-time presidential candidate whose career in Washington spanned four decades, served as the chairman for the Senate Armed Services Committee. Reed, the committee’s ranking Democrat, worked hand-in-hand with McCain.
“I view my relationship with Jack Reed as a partnership,” McCain told Eyewitness News reporter Ted Nesi in 2016.
“The only way two can effectively represent the men and women in the military is with a partnership,” McCain added. “We also happen to be good friends which is very helpful. That’s not always the case with the two, Republican and Democrat.”
Reed said McCain always respected when someone was committed to a principal, not for personal gain or partisan advantage, and would try to find a compromise.
“Because of his tough demeanor you don’t often associate the word ‘kind’ with John McCain but I associate that word with him constantly,” Reed said. “We knew that everything we were doing ultimately was about the men and women of the armed forces: their safety, their protection, their ability to protect us. And so we could get a little wrapped up in disputes and debates, but ultimately we knew we had to find a way.”
The last time Reed and McCain spoke was about two months ago, when Reed said he called McCain for guidance on the defense bill. Instead Reed said the conversation turned into a kind of fond farewell.
Reed said McCain will leave behind a legacy of “constant principled service to the nation.”
“World leaders would rush to see him, literally, and so when he spoke it wasn’t just the articulate words of someone urging principled compromised,” Reed said. “It was unique because it was John McCain. That voice is going to be hard to replace.”