Two of John McCain’s one-time political rivals will be delivering eulogies at his funeral on Saturday, and both were reportedly surprised to be asked to do so, notes CNN.
Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had been his opponents in often brutal races for the high office—Bush in 2000 primary and Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
According to CNN, their invitations to speak at the service were extended in the spring by McCain personally. The media outlet further notes, “neither of the two former presidents were especially close to McCain in life.”
“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,” Steve Duprey, a longtime friend of the late Senator, told the network.
Obama and Bush released statements following their former rival’s passing.
“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did,” Obama said, in part. “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.”
In his statement, Bush wrote, “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.”
McCain passed away on August 25 after a battle with brain cancer.