Obama, Bush to pay tribute to John McCain at Washington National Cathedral memorial service

Obama, Bush to pay tribute to John McCain at Washington National Cathedral memorial service
Obama, Bush to pay tribute to John McCain at Washington National Cathedral memorial service

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will pay tribute to John McCain at a memorial service in Washington National Cathedral on Saturday, a week after the Arizona Republican died at age 81 after a battle with brain cancer.

The memorial service will notably not feature President Trump, who had repeatedly sparred with McCain in recent years.

A six-term senator and a Vietnam veteran who was held as a prisoner of war for more than five years, McCain pushed for bipartisanship on the Hill. He ran against Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. He clinched the nomination in 2008 but was defeated in the presidential election by Obama.

Both Bush and Obama will speak on Saturday, along with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and daughter Meghan McCain. McCain’s pallbearers will include actor Warren Beatty and Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

On Friday colleagues, family and friends paid tribute to his service both in the military and the Congress as he lay in state underneath the Capitol rotunda.


With members of McCain’s family in attendance, Vice President Mike Pence said Americans “marveled at the iron will of John McCain” and praised him for holding fast “to his faith in America through six decades of service.”

“Generations of Americans will continue to marvel at the man who lies before us, the cocky, handsome naval aviator who barely scraped through school, and then fought for freedom in the skies; who witnessed to our highest values, even through terrible torture; and who became a generational leader in the United States Senate, where our nation airs its great debates,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

Tributes have poured in from both sides of the aisle for the Republican senator and 2008 presidential nominee. On Thursday, former Vice President Joe Biden remembered McCain as a brother, and said the two were “cockeyed optimists” in a memorial service for McCain at a church in Phoenix.

Biden, a Democrat, declared that McCain’s “legacy is going to continue to inspire generations.”

On Saturday, his casket will travel to the cathedral after passing by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where McCain’s wife Cindy is expected to lay a wreath.

McCain is to be buried Sunday at his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy, next to his best friend from the Class of 1958, Adm. Chuck Larson.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a reporter covering U.S. and European politics for Fox News.. He can be reached here.

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