SALT LAKE CITY — Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake had an emotional interview on CNN while discussing the loss of fellow Sen. John McCain over the weekend.
McCain passed away Saturday from brain cancer only a day after his family announced he would not seek further medical treatment.
Flake, a BYU graduate and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told CNN it will be tough to imagine working in Washington, D.C., without McCain.
"It's tough. I'm going to miss him," Flake said.
"I've admired him ... my entire life, and it's tough to imagine the Senate without him," he said. "It's tough to imagine politics without John McCain, but we need to go on."
Flake said he met with McCain Friday to say goodbye to him. He said McCain was important this year with all the chaos unfurling in Washington.
"His voice was important, has been for years, but never more important than the past year," Flake said. "It's tough to have a voice like that silenced — this voice for civility, to put the country above your party, these are things that he taught for years and never more important than the last year."
He said McCain emphasized the need for Congress to work together.
"He spoke to the Senate at that time, about how we needed to come together and not just do things in a partisan way," Flake added. "That was his biggest issue with that approach that we were taking, that it wasn't a bipartisan approach.
"John McCain is quintessential Arizonan — he's a maverick, he's independent. I didn't vote the same way he did, but I admired him for doing what he did," Flake said.
Utah leaders expressed admiration and respect for McCain in the immediate hours after his death, according to the Deseret News.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch called McCain a “hero,” saying “no one is more worthy” of that title than McCain.
"Over a lifetime of selfless service, John came to embody the very pinnacle of American virtue," Hatch said.
"My heart aches for Cindy, Meghan, and the rest of the McCain family," said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, in a statement released via tweet. "With John's passing, they've lost a loving husband, father, and family member, and the country has lost a true American hero."