Sen. John McCain hosts Vice President Joe Biden at Sedona Summit

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

SEDONA, Ariz. -- Arizona Senator John McCain welcomed Vice President Joe Biden to a summit in Sedona for a weekend of policy talks with leaders from around the world.

The McCain Institute for International Leadership is based at Arizona State University, and hosted the event.  The theme is "promoting democracy and freedom."

McCain and Biden have shared a contentious political relationship since the 2008 presidential election, when they were members of opposing tickets. McCain has been a sharp critic of the Obama administration's handling of domestic and foreign affairs, but the two men joked and flattered each other on stage.

"He's the most likable and most frustrating one I've dealt with, and the best vice president," McCain told the crowd.

"No matter what the hell he says about me, I still love him," Biden responded.

The two spoke before a crowd made up of many longtime McCain allies. Former Senators Jon Kyl and Joe Lieberman, along with current Senators Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham, sat at the front of the room.

Biden said he and McCain have "hollered at each other like brothers" for the last 38 years in Congress.  He praised McCain, and said the two shared a deep mutual respect, despite the at times nasty rhetoric.

On the other hand, Biden said he's seen a shift in congress.

"The difference is, unlike John and I, the current minority leader and I are not friends. It's not that I don't like him, it's just that we're not friends," Biden said of republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

After touching on topics from the Boston bombings to stricter background checks, Biden, unprovoked by McCain or anyone else in the room, offered his thoughts on the 2008 presidential election.

"Barack knows and I know, had the economy not tanked just as you were getting going, you probably would have won. Or at least it would have been incredibly close," Biden said.

The former Libyan prime minister is attending the summit, but McCain and Biden did not discuss Libya, or the deadly attack on the US consulate. In the past, McCain has pointed to the handling of the attack as a major Obama administration fumble.

CEO's and presidents of companies like GE and Walmart joined the crowd, as did former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo. He was invited for his humanitarian work, namely building a hospital in his native Congo.