WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP/WRIC) — 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.
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 became famous for being the sixth man to walk down the aisle with violet-eyed movie star Elizabeth Taylor.
The two met on a blind date in 1976 when the British ambassador asked Warner to escort Taylor to an embassy party honoring another Elizabeth, the Queen of England, who was visiting Washington. They married that December on Warner’s farm near Middleburg, Virginia.
President Biden delivered remarks at Sen. Warner’s funeral. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and the First Lady of Virginia Pam Northam attended the funeral service.
“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.”
The U.S. Virginia Senator Mark Warner — no relation to Sen. John Warner — also gave a speech during the service. He said he cared deeply about the longtime senator and said he was fun to be around.
“He was a leader of substance who delivered for Virginia and his country,” Sen. Mark Warner said.
On Tuesday, Northam ordered that flags in Virginia be lowered to half staff on Wednesday from dawn to dusk to honor the memory of Warner.