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Gary Hart remembers John McCain as a colleague and friend

Author: 9News - August 28, 2018 - Updated: August 28, 2018

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Then-U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colorado, in a Feb. 28, 1984, campaign appearance at the Chateau Restaurant in Manchester, N.H. At far right is former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder, D-Denver.

By Rachel Leuthauser, 9News

“It was inspiring to meet someone with that amount of courage,” says Gary Hart.

An admiration became a friendship between Hart, a former U.S. senator from Colorado, and U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who died Saturday.

Despite being on different sides of the aisle, the pair built a friendship that lasted more than 30 years, said Democrat Hart, who served in the Senate from 1975 to 1987 and who, like Republican McCain, ran for president.

It spanned from 1980, when Sen. Hart was a groomsman in McCain’s wedding, to this weekend, when Hart will serve as a pallbearer during McCain’s funeral.

Hart described meeting McCain when the late lawmaker was the naval liaison to the Senate in the 1970s. It was shortly after McCain returned from Vietnam.

“When I was introduced to him, I wouldn’t say I was speechless, but I was certainly in awe,” Hart told 9News on Monday. “All of us knew of his service in jail in Vietnam for almost six years.”

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KUSA-9News in Denver is the television news partner of Colorado Politics.