Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will pay tribute to Sen. John McCain during a Saturday funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral.
In April, McCain, who died at age 81 on Aug. 25 after a battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer, called Obama and asked him to deliver one of the eulogies at his funeral.
Obama agreed that he would.
“He was taken aback by the request, aides say, as was George W. Bush, another former rival, who received a similar call from McCain this spring,” reports CNN.
Obama, who defeated McCain in the 2008 election, said in a statement that he and McCain “were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics.”
He added, “But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.”
Steve Duprey, a longtime friend of the late Senator, told CNN:
“I think it is John McCain imparting a lesson in civility by asking the two men who defeated him to speak, as an example to America that differences in political views and contests shouldn’t be so important that we lose our common bonds and the civility that is, or used to be, a hallmark of American democracy.”
McCain served for 30 years in the Senate representing Arizona. Former Vice President Joe Biden, his longtime Senate colleague, paid tribute to the two-time Republican presidential candidate, during a 90-minute memorial service at North Phoenix Baptist Church on Thursday.
Biden said the Vietnam War hero and venerable politician was like family.
“I always thought of John as a brother,” he said.
“We had a hell of a lot of family fights,” Biden said to laughter from the 3,500 or so mourners packing the auditorium, according to Reuters.