WASHINGTON -- As America pays its respect to President George H.W. Bush, Florida's U.S. senators are looking back at the legacy he leaves behind. 

“He cared about people regardless of what your party is," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who will be leaving the U.S. Senate at the end of the year. 

“I have tremendous admiration for the sort of leadership he showed," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida said. 

Nelson remembers how the former president raced to Walter Reed Hospital to see Florida Congressman Claude Pepper, who was terminally ill. 

“President and Mrs. Bush came there to present him with the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor for a civilian. That shows you what kind of person and president he was," he explained. 

Bush’s most notable connection to the state of Florida was his son, former Gov. Jeb Bush. Rubio remembers when the former president made his way to Tallahassee in 2006.

“He gave a pretty moving speech when he talked about the first election Jeb had lost," Rubio said.

Rubio admits Bush was the first presidential candidate he ever voted for, and admires the way he shepherded the nation through the first Gulf War.

“It was a masterpiece of foreign policy. You could see where all the accumulated years of experience at the CIA, as vice president, as a member of Congress, as a representative in China, all came together," he said.

Wednesday was a national day of mourning, and a moment for lawmakers to put politics aside to honor and embrace the spirit of President Bush’s ability to reach across party lines.

“You've got to come together in bipartisan cooperation to get anything done, and President George H.W. Bush was an excellent example of how he would bring people together," Sen. Nelson said.

Sen.-elect Rick Scott also attended the funeral at the National Cathedral as well. ​