McCain to lie in state in US Capitol rotunda

Laurie Kellman
Associated Press
Flags flying a half-staff in honor of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., frame the U.S. Capital at daybreak in Washington, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. McCain, 81, died at his ranch in Arizona after a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

Presidents past and present joined members of Congress from both parties and world leaders in mourning Sen. John McCain and praising him for a lifetime of service and accomplishments.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who blocked the Arizona Republican’s own White House ambitions, are among those expected to speak at McCain’s funeral.

“These were bitter contests, both of them,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and “to ask them to speak at your funeral, and for them to be honored at the opportunity, that tells you all you need to know.”

Flake told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that McCain “was quick to forgive - certainly put the good of the country above himself, and the fact that his former opponents will be there speaking says all we need to know.”

Congressional leaders announced that McCain would lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. They did not give a date for the tribute and said more details would be released later. “The nation mourns the loss of a great American patriot, a statesman who put his country first and enriched this institution through many years of service,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Obituary: War hero and presidential candidate John McCain 

Bankole Thompson: The rarity of Sen. John McCain’s politics

McCain is expected to be remembered at ceremonies in Arizona and Washington this coming week or next, if the family prefers to give more time for Congress to return to the Capitol from its summer recess. McCain is to be buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery on a peninsula overlooking the Severn River in Annapolis, Maryland. On Saturday, his grave was marked where he had written he wanted to be buried – next to his best friend from his Naval Academy days, Adm. Chuck Larson.

President Donald Trump, who once criticized McCain for being taken prisoner during the Vietnam War, said his “deepest sympathies and respect” went out to McCain’s family. First lady Melania Trump tweeted thanks to McCain for his service to the country.

Dozens line Interstate 17 as they wait for the procession with the hearse carrying the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, in Anthem, Ariz.

McCain, 81, died Saturday at his ranch in Arizona after a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

A black hearse, accompanied by a police motorcade, could be seen driving away from the ranch near Sedona where McCain spent his final weeks. For 50 miles along Interstate 17 southbound, on every overpass and at every exit ramp, people watched the procession. Hundreds, including many waving American flags, parked their cars and got out to watch.

Trump’s brief Twitter statement said “hearts and prayers” are with the McCain family.

Trump and McCain were at odds until the end. The president, who as a candidate in 2016 mocked McCain’s capture in Vietnam, had jabbed at the ailing senator for voting against Republican efforts to roll back President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Earlier this summer, McCain issued a blistering statement criticizing Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Obama, who triumphed over McCain in 2008, said that despite their differences, McCain and he shared a “fidelity to something higher - the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.”

Obama said they “saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world.”

Bush, who defeated McCain for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, called McCain a “man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order” and a “friend whom I’ll deeply miss.”

John McCain.

Other tributes poured in from around the globe.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted in English that McCain “was a true American hero. He devoted his entire life to his country.” Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said McCain’s support for the Jewish state “never wavered. It sprang from his belief in democracy and freedom.” And Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, called McCain “a tireless fighter for a strong trans-Atlantic alliance. His significance went well beyond his own country.”

McCain was the son and grandson of admirals and followed them to the U.S. Naval Academy. A pilot, he was shot down over Vietnam and held as a prisoner of war for more than five years. He went on to win a seat in the House and in 1986, the Senate, where he served for the rest of his life.

More: Captivity, candor and hard votes: 9 moments that made McCain

More: McCain on his time as POW: ‘I fell in love with my country’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called McCain a “fascinating personality.”

“He would occasionally be in a bad place with various members, including myself, and when this would blow over it was like nothing ever happened,” McConnell said Saturday after a GOP state dinner in Lexington, Kentucky. “He also had a wicked sense of humor and it made every tense moment come out better.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who developed a friendship with McCain while they served together in the Senate, said the Arizona lawmaker will “cast a long shadow.”

“The spirit that drove him was never extinguished: we are here to commit ourselves to something bigger than ourselves,” Biden said

The Senate’s top Democrat, New York’s Chuck Schumer, said he wants to rename the Senate building that housed McCain’s suite of offices after McCain.

“As you go through life, you meet few truly great people. John McCain was one of them,” Schumer said. “Maybe most of all, he was a truth teller - never afraid to speak truth to power in an era where that has become all too rare.”

Reactions to the death of Sen. John McCain

“My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!” – President Donald Trump, on Twitter.


“Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy to the McCain Family. Thank you Senator McCain for your service to the nation.” – first lady Melania Trump, on Twitter.


“Karen and I send our deepest condolences to Cindy and the entire McCain family on the passing of Senator John McCain. We honor his lifetime of service to this nation in our military and in public life. His family and friends will be in our prayers. God bless John McCain.” – Vice President Mike Pence, on Twitter.


“My heart is broken. I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best.” – McCain’s widow, Cindy, on Twitter.


“John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics. 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. We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible - and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way.

“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.” – former President Barack Obama.


“Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled. John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order. He was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country. And to me, he was a friend whom I’ll deeply miss. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathies to Cindy and the entire McCain family, and our thanks to God for the life of John McCain.” – former President George W. Bush.


“Senator John McCain believed that every citizen has a responsibility to make something of the freedoms given by our Constitution, and from his heroic service in the Navy to his 35 years in Congress, he lived by his creed every day. He was a skilled, tough politician, as well as a trusted colleague alongside whom Hillary was honored to serve in the Senate. He frequently put partisanship aside to do what he thought was best for the country, and was never afraid to break the mold if it was the right thing to do. I will always be especially grateful for his leadership in our successful efforts to normalize relations with Vietnam. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Cindy, his mother, Roberta, his children, and his entire family.” – former President Bill Clinton.


“John McCain’s life is proof that some truths are timeless. Character. Courage. Integrity. Honor. A life lived embodying those truths casts a long, long shadow. John McCain will cast a long shadow. His impact on America hasn’t ended. Not even close. It will go on for many years to come.”

“As a POW, John endured the worst of what human beings can do to one another. In politics, he fell short of his greatest ambition. At the end of his life he faced a cruel and relentless disease. And yet through it all he never lost sight of what he believed most: Country First. And the spirit that drove him was never extinguished: we are here to commit ourselves to something bigger than ourselves.”

“John was many things – a proud graduate of the Naval Academy, a Senate colleague, a political opponent. But, to me, more than anything, John was a friend. “

“America will miss John McCain. The world will miss John McCain. And I will miss him dearly.”

“On behalf of myself, Jill, and the entire Biden family, our sincerest condolences go out to Cindy, Doug, Andy, Sidney, Meghan, Jack, Jimmy, Bridget, and the entire McCain family.” –former Vice President Joe Biden.


“John McCain served our nation with honor and distinction. He fought for a world that was safer and more free and sacrificed mightily for the nation he loved. Lynne and our family join me in sending our condolences and prayers to the McCain family.” – former Vice President Dick Cheney.


U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, tweeted: “John McCain was a special friend. He was a leader that never stopped to smell the roses as there was always a new legislative challenge to tackle next. His dignity, integrity, & sense of duty is what all public servants should seek to emulate. We'll miss him dearly.”


U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, tweeted: “Very few Americans have endured John McCain’s pain. Our country lost a true patriot today. His long and selfless service to the United States of America should inspire us all. May God rest his soul.”


U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, tweeted: “John McCain was a leader, a statesman, and an exemplary American who always put service before self. His dedication, courage, and commitment set an example for others to follow. My thoughts and prayers go out to Senator McCain’s family during this difficult time.”


Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham, tweeted that, “As a devoted husband, father, sailor, and legislator, it was John McCain’s service to others that made his 81 years so notable. He is a true American hero and the legacy he has left behind is honorable without question— my prayers are with the entire McCain family.”


Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of John McCain - a true public servant and American hero, may his service to our nation never be forgotten.”


Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, tweeted: “I offer my prayers and condolences to the family of Senator John McCain. Senator McCain served his country with honor and distinction.”


“Senator John McCain was an American hero and a true patriot. I always admired and respected John from the opposite side of the aisle, because he thrived under pressure, and would work to find common ground, no matter how hard. He dedicated his life to serving the country he loved. I have no doubt that the Maverick’s legacy will forever be an important model of leadership and civil discourse.” – former Vice President Al Gore, on Twitter.


“Today we lost an American original. Sen. John McCain was a maverick and a fighter, never afraid to stand for his beliefs. John never took the easy path in life – and through sacrifice and suffering he inspired others to serve something greater than self. John McCain was my friend. I will remember the good times. My family and I send prayers for Cindy and the McCain family.” – Sarah Palin, McCain’s 2008 running mate.


“This is a sad day for the United States. Our country has lost a decorated war hero and statesman. John McCain was a giant of our time–not just for the things he achieved, but for who he was and what he fought for all his life. John put principle before politics. He put country before self. He was one of the most courageous men of the century. He will always be listed among freedom’s most gallant and faithful servants. Our hearts are with his wife, Cindy, his children, and his grandchildren. This Congress, this country, mourn with them.” – House Speaker Paul Ryan.


“He was also a fascinating personality. He would occasionally be in a bad place with various members, including myself, and when this would blow over it was like nothing ever happened. He also had a wicked sense of humor and it made every tense moment come out better. So, we’re going to miss him a lot. We haven’t had him since December, and now we won’t have him again. I’m going to miss him a lot. He was a great friend.” – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.


“The Senate, the United States, and the world are lesser places without John McCain. Nothing will overcome the loss of Senator McCain, but so that generations remember him I will be introducing a resolution to rename the Russell building after him. As you go through life, you meet few truly great people. John McCain was one of them. His dedication to his country and the military were unsurpassed, and maybe most of all, he was a truth teller – never afraid to speak truth to power in an era where that has become all too rare.” – Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.


“The nation is in tears. Today, with the passing of John McCain, Congress and America have lost a leader and public servant of deep patriotism, outstanding bravery and undaunted spirit. Compelled by his unshakeable faith and deep love of country, he dedicated his life to defending both America and the American idea – fighting tirelessly to ensure that our nation always remains a land of justice, freedom and hope.

“Over the course of John McCain’s years of distinguished service, whether as a naval officer, Member of Congress, U.S. Senator or presidential candidate, we all saw firsthand his integrity, humility, courage and grace. He never forgot the great duty he felt to care for our nation’s heroes, dedicating his spirit and energy to ensuring that no man or woman in uniform was left behind on the battlefield or once they returned home.

“Paul and I join with all Americans in mourning the loss of this extraordinary national hero. May it be a comfort to his wife, Cindy, and his beloved children, Douglas, Andrew, Sidney, Meghan, John, James and Bridget, and his beautiful mother, Roberta, that so many people in America and around with the world mourn with them and pray for them during this sad time.” – House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.


"John McCain was a patriot of the highest order, a public servant of rarest courage. Few sacrificed more for, or contributed more to, the welfare of his fellow citizens — and indeed freedom-loving peoples around the world. Another American maverick and warrior, General George Patton, once observed: “We should thank God that men such as these have lived.” To that I can only add my gratitude to John's wife Cindy, his wonderful family, and the people of Arizona who permitted this great and good man to serve with such distinction in the world’s greatest deliberative body."  – Former President George H. W. Bush


“John McCain was a true American hero. He served our country bravely on the battlefield and in public service. His independent spirit and his dedication to doing what is right will be greatly missed. My prayers are with Cindy and the McCain family during this very difficult time.” – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow 


"Senator John McCain was the bravest person I ever met.  He was tested in war in unimaginable circumstances and was fearless in public life.   He spoke his mind in the face of powerful forces.  I saw firsthand as, together, we led two Senate Committees, the boundless passion he had for our country matched only by his staunch adherence to an honor code that guided his entire life. He was a loyal friend whom I loved dearly, and his life will be an inspiration for young people to serve our nation for generations to come.” – Retired U.S. Senator Carl Levin


“With strength and humility, John McCain showed us all what it means to be a true public servant. From his sacrifice as a prisoner of war to his service in the U.S. Senate, John McCain was a man of integrity. John McCain’s death is an incredible loss for our country.

“Jennifer and I extend our condolences to the entire McCain family during this difficult time. For generations to come, John McCain will be a role model for others who seek to live a principled and courageous life.” – Congressman Dan Kildee 


"We mourn the passing of a true American patriot, Senator John McCain," said Chairwoman McDaniel. "Senator McCain dedicated his life to serving his country, both during his time in Congress and in combat in the U.S. Navy. He was an advocate for American leadership in the world and a tireless champion of our nation’s troops and veterans. We at the RNC are praying for the entire McCain family at this difficult time." – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel 


“Senator John McCain was an American Hero and a dear friend. In 2007-08, I had the tremendous pleasure of serving as National Co-Chair on Senator McCain’s Presidential Campaign and I shall cherish the time we spent together. John McCain’s commitment to our nation and lifetime of public service can be summed up by one simple word: duty. He dedicated his life to protecting our nation both in the United States Navy and in the Senate, and our nation can never repay the sacrifices he made for us. On behalf of myself, my wife Eileen, and Republicans across Michigan, I would like to send my deepest condolences to Cindy and the rest of the McCain family.” - Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser 


“Words cannot express the sorrow I feel at John McCain’s passing. The world has lost a hero and a statesman. Cindy and the McCain family have lost a loving husband and father. I have lost a wonderful friend.” – Sen. Jeff Flake.


“Our nation aches for truth-tellers. This man will be greatly missed.” – Republican Sen. Ben Sasse.


“Senator John McCain was an American patriot and hero whose sacrifices for his country, and lifetime of public service, were an inspiration to millions. Canadians join Americans tonight in celebrating his life and mourning his passing.” – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.


“Tonight we lost an uncompromising patriot and a man of immeasurable courage. Getting to know John McCain was one of the great privileges of my life, and I know my late husband Ted felt the same way.”

“Like Teddy, John McCain loved the United States Senate and believed in its power to impact lives in a positive way. Indeed, he declared from the floor of the U.S. Senate that the proudest and most satisfying moments of his career were when he worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address our greatest challenges.”

“John’s example summons us, in his memory, to live up to what is best in ourselves and to honor what is best in others. In word and deed, he taught us be valiant in the truest sense – faithful to our ideals and principles, but never demonizing those who differ.”

“My heart is with Cindy and all the McCain family on this difficult night. I hope and pray that they find solace in knowing what a difference John made in the history of this country. Though he and Teddy had different political philosophies and were from different political parties, they both loved this country and loved each other. John McCain was our friend, and I will miss him, profoundly.” – Victoria Kennedy, widow of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.


“A war hero, Senator John McCain led with courage and conviction on and off the battlefield. You always knew where he stood, and he stood straight wherever he was standing. In Congress, where there is more pressure now than ever before to stand on the left or right, Senator McCain often stood in the center–putting patriotism before party; the health care vote he cast last year and his criticism of President Trump are just a few examples.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Today we lost a true American patriot.” – Rep. Cedric Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.


“John McCain devoted his life to serving his country. He was and always will be an American hero, and the U.S. Senate will not be the same without him. It was his profound sense of moral duty, not partisan party politics, that guided his decisions as a legislator and a leader. From strengthening our military to fighting for immigration reform, Senator McCain was always willing and eager to reach across the aisle to get things done for his constituents and the American people.

“Senator McCain once said, ‘Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.’ Whether it was fighting alongside his fellow soldiers in Vietnam or standing up for his values on the Senate floor, John McCain never quit. He never surrendered or hid from history. He made history, and our nation will be forever grateful for his service.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his friends and colleagues in the Senate, and the people of Arizona as we mourn his passing and celebrate his life.” – Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.