McCain

In this image from Senate Television, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pauses as he speaks on the Senate floor at the Capitol in Washington, on Tuesday next to the desk of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., draped in black with a bowl of white roses sitting on it. McCain died on Aug. 25, after battling brain cancer. Graham was McCain's best friend in the Senate.  Senate Television via AP

Hours before U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham planned to say his final goodbye to the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, the South Carolina Republican praised Meghan McCain's powerful eulogy of her father, in which she criticized President Donald Trump. 

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning alongside former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, Graham said he was "totally OK" with McCain's remarks at her father's memorial Saturday at the National Cathedral.

In her speech, she referenced her father's "greatness." In an apparent rebuke of the president, McCain then called her father's greatness "the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly."

Meghan McCain also invoked Trump's own campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," to take aim at the president himself.

"The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great," she said to applause.

Though three former presidents attended McCain's funeral, Trump was reportedly not invited to attend. Instead, Trump spent his Saturday golfing.

Graham, who frequently speaks with the president, did not take offense at the eulogy Meghan McCain delivered. Instead, Graham expressed pride. 

"She's a beautiful, talented young lady. She is her father's daughter. If you say something bad about her dad, you will know it whether you're the janitor or the president of the United States," Graham said. 

Lieberman, a former Democratic senator and close friend of John McCain, praised Meghan McCain for her courage.

"By the nature of his life, she's called on to make a very public, global statement," Lieberman said. "And she did it the way her dad would want her to do it. You know, she was direct in the way John was."

Graham and Lieberman were close friends of McCain. During their time in the Senate, the bipartisan group of men were dubbed the "three amigos" by Gen. David Petraeus. The two are also close friends of the McCain family.

Following the funeral, Meghan McCain shared a photo on Instagram of her standing between Lieberman and Graham. In the caption, she referred to them as her "uncles forever."

My uncles forever - we love you so much Dad @senjohnmccain

A post shared by Meghan McCain (@meghanmccain) on

On Tuesday, Graham gave a eulogy of his own on the Senate floor. He said that after the chamber was cleared that day, he walked McCain’s wife to her husband’s desk. That day it was covered in a black cloth and had a vase filled with white roses on it.

Sign up for updates!

Get the latest political news from The Post and Courier in your inbox.


The moment was a private one and was not witnessed by reporters. Graham said Cindy McCain was her husband's "biggest political cheerleader."

Recalling that moment, Graham said, "It meant a lot to Cindy to sit at this desk. ... It was very touching."

Graham and Lieberman appeared on the Sunday news program hours before they planned to head to Annapolis, where McCain was to be buried at a private ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery.

Asked how he was handling getting ready to say goodbye to one of his best friends, Graham said, "I'm going to admit to what I've lost."

McCain died on Aug. 25 after a year-long battle with brain cancer. He was 81.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.