Partisanship had no place at the packed North Phoenix Baptist Church on Thursday in Arizona as friends, family and politicians on both sides of the aisle gathered to honor the life of Sen. John McCain.

Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered an emotional tribute to his fallen friend, wiping tears from his eyes as he recalled a man who "could not stand the abuse of power wherever he saw it, in whatever form, in whatever country."

McCain passed away Saturday at the age of 81 after a yearlong battle with an aggressive brain cancer.

Biden, a Democrat, praised McCain as a lawmaker and war hero who placed his belief in America above politics and partisanship.

"It wasn't about politics with John, we could disagree on substance. It was the underlying values that animated everything John did, everything he was," he said. "It was always about basic values with John. Fairness, honesty, dignity, respect. Giving hate no safe harbor, leaving no one behind. And understanding that as Americans we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves."

Sitting U.S. senators, former senators and other leaders from Arizona attended the service for the statesman, former prisoner of war and two-time presidential candidate.

Members of the Arizona National Guard escorted McCain's wife, Cindy, and the rest of his family from the Arizona State Capitol Building, where mourners had gathered to pay respects to the state's late senator on Wednesday.

More than 12,000 people filed through the rotunda to view McCain's casket, some waiting in line in the Phoenix heat for hours.

The motorcade transporting McCain's casket drew hundreds more to the streets.

A few firefighters saluted from atop a fire engine parked on an overpass as the motorcade passed underneath on Interstate 17.

One man shouted, "We love you!"

Arizona Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald and McCain's longtime chief of staff Grant Woods, a former Arizona attorney general, both spoke from the pulpit of the church, where McCain once attended services.

Woods drew laughs as he talked about McCain's "terribly bad driving" and his sense of humor, which included calling the Leisure World retirement community "Seizure World."

Following the service, McCain's casket was escorted to the Air National Guard base at the Phoenix airport, where it was transferred to a military aircraft bound for Washington, D.C.

On Friday, McCain's casket will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, where friends, family and the public will similarly be able to remember his life of service.

Sen. Henry Clay was the first person to lie in state at the Capitol when he died in 1852 _ since, only 30 others have been granted the honor. McCain will be the 31st, joining a select group that includes presidents such as Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

A motorcade with McCain's casket will depart Saturday morning for the Washington National Cathedral. It will pause at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where Cindy McCain will place a ceremonial wreath to honor those who lost their lives during the decadeslong conflict.

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush are expected to speak during the weekend service.