Senator John McCain was remembered as a “true American hero” and a “terrible driver” at a church service ahead of his state funeral.
Addressing around 3,500 mourners in an Arizona church, former Democrat vice president Joe Biden said the Republican senator had a “wicked sense of humour” and “loved a good battle”.
He recalled “the joy that crossed his face when he knew he was about to take the stage of the Senate floor and start a fight”.
Mr Biden said he thought of Mr McCain as a brother “with a lot of family fights”.
The service at the North Baptist Church in Phoenix was held for the statesman, former prisoner of war and 2008 presidential candidate after his body was driven in a motorcade from the state capital.
Mourners waving American flags and McCain signs lined the route five days after he died of brain cancer aged 81.
Family members watched in silence as members of the military removed the flag-draped coffin from a black hearse and carried it into the church.
Mr McCain’s longtime chief of staff, Grant Woods spoke about the senator’s “terribly bad driving” and his sense of humour – which drew a chuckle.
Meanwhile, the church’s senior pastor, Noe Garcia, said Mr McCain was “a true American hero”.
Mr Biden made a thinly veiled reference to Donald Trump when he spoke about Mr McCain’s opposition to those who “lacked the basic values of decency and respect, knowing this project is bigger than yourself”.
He said his friend “could not stand the abuse of power wherever he saw it, in whatever form, in whatever country”.
Dabbing his eyes, Mr Biden also spoke about his own son’s death from cancer, saying: “It’s brutal, it’s relentless, it’s unforgiving.”
Speaking to Mr McCain’s wife Cindy, he said: “You were his ballast.”
Thursday’s service ended two days of mourning for the six-term senator in his home state.
Afterwards his body was taken in a motorcade to the airport where it was put on a military aircraft to fly east.
A service at the Washington National Cathedral will be held on Saturday before he is buried at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Sunday.
On Wednesday, a private service was held in Phoenix, Arizona, for family and friends.