Lindsey Graham reflects on his decades-long friendship and final words with John McCain

An estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people paid their respects to John McCain at the Arizona state capitol on Wednesday as tributes continue for the late senator. "CBS This Morning" co-host John Dickerson spoke with Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday about his unique relationship with McCain, which spanned more than two decades, and he revealed what their last moments together were like. 

Graham said he'd been planning to visit McCain this week but something told him to go last Friday. "And when I walked in, he just smiled and held my hand, but really didn't say anything," Graham recalled. 

Graham told him, "You did good. You exceeded every expectation your dad and your grandfather had for you. You did right by your country, did right by your friends. And I am better for having met you."

Below is an excerpt of Dickerson's conversation with Graham:

JOHN DICKERSON: We've heard a lot about Senator McCain this week. What's something people would be surprised to learn about John McCain?

LINDSEY GRAHAM: How kind he was.

DICKERSON: How did that manifest itself?

GRAHAM: Paying tremendous amount of attention when you needed it the most. That he could be a handful, he could rip your head off, all on and on and on. But he could be incredibly kind just by picking up the phone, making sure that you knew he was there for you.

DICKERSON: What would he say if he was calling you now?

GRAHAM: Buck up. Knock that crap off. You're embarrassing yourself.

DICKERSON: Do you still have the instinct to take out your phone and call him?

GRAHAM: People ask me what it's like. Yes, I literally, yesterday afternoon… I literally almost picked up my phone, so I don't know who in your life that you talk to about business matters or almost share things with about your hopes and your dreams and, you know, your business activities, it was John for me.

DICKERSON: If you can't talk to him, what do you hear him saying in your head?

GRAHAM: Steady. Keep pushing. Be careful, but steady. Stay involved. Don't give up.

DICKERSON: Did you get a chance to say goodbye to him?

GRAHAM: Yeah, I did…And when I walked in, he just smiled and held my hand, but really didn't say anything. And Friday was a bad day. But, yeah, something told me to go. I was planning to go this week. And I found a hole in my schedule I said, "No, I need to go."

DICKERSON: What did you tell him when you said goodbye to him?

GRAHAM: You did good. You exceeded every expectation your dad and your grandfather had for you. You did right by your country, did right by your friends. And I am better for having met you and he just squeezed really hard.

DICKERSON: You traveled all over the world together.

GRAHAM: Yes, every place no one else wanted to go, we went.

DICKERSON: You were never anywhere very long.

GRAHAM: This man, John McCain, had more energy than 10 men. The doctor told me and Cindy that he had eight times the tolerance for pain of the average person. But he had a schedule that would literally kill you, but he was curious.

DICKERSON: Last question. We're sitting in the Russell Senate Office Building. Should it be the John McCain Senate Office Building?

GRAHAM: Yeah. I think we need a -- I don't know. I'd name the capitol after the guy. It'd be John McCain, D.C. I want to see what the family thinks…But the Capitol Visitor Center, he hated that place. It turned out to be marvelous….What if, as the first thing you saw, was the life of John McCain? What if it was the John McCain Capitol Visitor Center? That would be perfect in this regard. It would be an educational moment for young people to know that men like John McCain existed. Then, they'll find out about other men and women that made this place truly great and it would annoy the hell out of him. So it'd be my way of getting back at him. 

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