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President Biden mourns former Senate colleague John Warner

Posted at 12:54 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 12:54:29-04

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Joe Biden on Wednesday mourned his former Senate colleague, Virginia's John Warner, as a “man of conscience, character and honor" who was deeply committed to God and country.

At a time in America's political history when some lawmakers are seen as reaching decisions based on partisan or personal interests, Biden said Warner was the opposite.

“John’s decisions were always guided by his values, by his convictions and never by personal political consequences” the president said in remarks before a masked audience at Washington National Cathedral that included Warner's immediate family and members of Congress.

“It was always guided by his obligation to all those he represented, even those who did not vote for him,” said Biden, who met privately beforehand with Warner's family.

Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Nancy Pelosi
President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., of Calif., watch an American flag is placed next to urn with the cremated remains of former Virginia Sen. John Warner during a funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral, in Washington, Wednesday, June 23, 2021. On the far right is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Warner died of heart failure at his Alexandria, Virginia, home on May 26. He was 94.

Warner was a centrist Republican who served three decades in the Senate, including with Biden. Warner joined the Navy when he was 17, served with the Marines in the Korean War and rose to become Navy secretary. He was elected to and served five terms in the Senate where he became, in Biden's telling, “a towering and respected voice on foreign policy, national security and defense.”

Warner also was one of Elizabeth Taylor's seven husbands, a union that gave him a potent dash of star power.

Elizabeth Taylor John Warner, Taylor Warner
FILE - In this Jan. 30, 1977 file photo actress Elizabeth Taylor and her husband, former secretary of the U.S. Navy John Warner attend the 42nd New York Film Critics Circle Awards dinner in New York. Warner, one of the Senate’s most influential military experts, died Tuesday, May 25, 2021, at age 94, his longtime chief of staff said Wednesday, May 26. (AP Photo/File)

In an appeal for bipartisanship, Biden lauded Warner's “willingness to see each other as opponents, not as enemies” and view everyone as fellow Americans ”even when we disagree."

“In the battle for the soul of America today, John Warner is a reminder of what we can do when we come together as one nation,” Biden said.

Warner crossed party lines last year to endorse Democrat Biden for president. Biden said the backing carried “extra meaning for me.”

“When John endorsed me, it gave me confidence,” Biden said. “John gave me confidence.”