Jon Kyl, plus a benediction from Sen. Members of the public in Arizona will later be able to pay their respects.
Wednesday's observance was to open with a private ceremony inside the Rotunda of the Arizona statehouse, after which members of the public were invited to pay their respects from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. local time.
The Phoenix memorial follows a few days of confusion at the White House over whether American flags at USA government buildings would be flown at half-staff, in the traditional gesture for prominent political figures following their deaths. Some had traveled for hours from California and elsewhere.
Throughout the morning, volunteers outside filled coolers with ice and water bottles for the crowds gathered under canopies to wait for the viewing.
Chasity Pullin, whose husband and father are military veterans, was among those in line. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said of McCain, "He'd be the first person - if he were here - to say, 'No, we need to put this through a process that would be like the historic process used in the Senate".
"It feels like you're losing part of your family, as much as he did", she said. Jeff Flake and the latter's early retirement, the race had also represented a simmering battle of ideologies within the Republican Party: Could Trumpism be replicated successfully?
Cindy McCain was supported by her sons Jack (L) and Jimmy (R) at the service.
"You know Richard Russell was ... from the South, and I'm sure not ideal like George Washington and everybody else in his days, but he was a well-respected senator", said Republican Sen.
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Davis said there's a possibility it happened, but he's not sure and he takes responsibility for what he called "miscommunication". But the president continues to maintain that he knew nothing about it beforehand.
"I'm a Southerner", Shelby said."Russell was a man of his time, OK?"
"But I would not begin to compare myself to John McCain, I really wouldn't".
Judith Hatch, a veteran from Phoenix, started the day by handing out flags to those who were assembled.
"John is probably the only politicians who could get us to set aside politics and come together as a state and nation", Ducey said. The viewing will go on as long as people are waiting in line, Rick Davis, McCain's former presidential campaign manager, said Monday. "Gathered in this spot, we are especially grateful that John made Arizona his home".
Still, Graham seems to have picked up the torch for McCain, who had become frustrated with a lack of strategy toward victory in Afghanistan and drafted his own in 2017. "If you believe in something, stand up for it, whether it's popular or not".
Thursday, his body will be taken to a Phoenix church, where former Vice President Joe Biden will deliver a eulogy during a memorial service. Musical choices include a recessional to "My Way" by Frank Sinatra.
Arizona's first responders lined the plaza as the Arizona National Guard team carried McCain inside the Capitol.