Presidents club assembles for Bush funeral, Trump an outlier

WASHINGTON (AP) — The death of George H.W. Bush is bringing together the five remaining members of an oh-so-exclusive fraternity - the presidents club. But for President Donald Trump, it may not be an entirely comfortable reunion, throwing him together with former occupants of the Oval Office who have given him decidedly mixed reviews.

The state funeral for the late president will be attended by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. The last time they were all together with Trump was at his inauguration in 2017.

Trump has sought to meet the elder Bush's passing with grace, a contrast to the rhythms of his tumultuous presidency. Trump's predecessors have all made their discomfort with his leadership known in different ways.

The nation's 41st president, Bush died last Friday at age 94. His wife of 73 years, Barbara, passed away in April.

The ceremony late Wednesday morning will cap three days of remembrance by dignitaries and ordinary citizens alike. The Republican president oversaw the post-Cold War transition and led a successful Gulf War, then lost re-election in a generational shift to Clinton.

Joining American notables and representatives from more than a dozen countries is an electrician and fix-it man, Mike Lovejoy, who has worked at Bush's Maine summer estate since 1990.

Bush's remains will be returned to Houston to lie in repose before burial Thursday at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station.

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George H.W. Bush through the years
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George H.W. Bush through the years
View of US Representative to the United Nations (and future US President) George HW Bush during a press conference, New York, New York, 1971. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
George H. W. Bush standing in front of a 'Yale Fence' in his baseball uniform at Yale University, circa 1945-48. (George Bush Presidential Library/MCT via Getty Images)
United States Ambassador to the United Nations (and future US President) George HW Bush golfs with his wife (and future First Lady), Barbara Bush (nee Pierce), Washington DC, October 1971. (Photo by Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Washington, DC. December 1989 President George H.W. Bush gestures to reporters in the Rose Garden. Credit: Mark Reinstein (Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
George H.W. Bush, Andover Philips Academy Year Book in 1964. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)
View of US Representative to the United Nations (and future US President) George HW Bush during a press conference, New York, New York, 1971. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
George Bush was captain of championship Yale baseball team, while completing college in 2-1/2 years after war service, Phi Beta Kappa, Economics, in 1948. (George Bush Presidential Library/MCT via Getty Images)
Unspecified - 1975: George HW Bush on ABC's 'Issues and Answers' program. (Photo by ABC via Getty Images)
BEIJING, HEBEI, CHINA - 1975/05/01: Left to Right: Ted Castaneda, US 5K runner, George H.W. Bush, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China, speaks with Milt Richmond, journalist at the Track Stadium in Beijing, China in May 1975. The Chinese invited the US Track team to compete in 1975 in preparation for the 1976 Olympics held in Montreal. It was seen as a historic opening up of relations for communist China. (Photo by John J Boitano/Stephen J. Boitano/LightRocket via Getty Images)
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - APRIL 16: (NO U.S. TABLOID SALES) (L-R) Lady Bird Johnson, President George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, President Gerald R. Ford, Betty Ford, President Jimmy Carter, and Rosalyn Carter pose for a formal group portrait at the Gerald R. Ford Library re-dedication on April 16, 1997 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
During his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination, American politician (and future US President) George HW Bush stands beside an open car door, Iowa, January 1980. (Photo Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 1981: Vice President George H.W. Bush explaining the new post of 'Crisis Manager' to the press in March 1981 in Washington, DC. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC -- FEBRUARY 23: President Ronald Reagan (R) walks with Vice President George H.W. Bush as the President arrive at the Vice President's residence on February 23, 1981 in Washington, DC. President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan were visiting the Vice President's residence for the first time. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
Detroit, MI - 1980: (L-R) Barbara Bush, George HW Bush, Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan at 1980 Republican National Convention from Joe Louis Arena, in Detroit, MI. (Photo by ABC via Getty Images)
American politician (and future US President) George HW Bush speaks at an event during his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination, Iowa, January 1980. His wife, future First Lady Barbara Bush, stands beside him. (Photo Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images)
Harnessed to Staff Sergeant Bryan Schell of United States Army Golden Knights, former US President George HW Bush (center, bottom) parachutes in celebration of his 80th birthday, outside Houston, Texas, June 13, 2004. The jump was performed near the Bush Presidential Library and was his fifth. (Photo by US Army via CNP/Getty Images)
During his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination, American politician George HW Bush (left) speaks with journalist Stryker McGuire on a airplane during a flight, January 21, 1980. (Photo Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images)
KENNEBUNKPORT, ME - JULY 19: George HW Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, greets supporters along Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport, Maine on July 19, 1980. Bush is campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. (Photo by Janet Knott/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC -- CIRCA 1983: U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush at the Vice President's residence circa 1983 in in Washington, DC. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC -- CIRCA 1986: U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush circa 1986 in in Washington, DC. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
Vice President George H.W. Bush (R), during re-enactment of Senate Swear- In. (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
American politician and US President Ronald Reagan (1911 - 2004) (right) and Vice President (and future President) George HW Bush relax together on Reagan's ranch, Santa Barbara, California, August 7, 1984. (Photo Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images)
Washington, DC. 6-25-1984 Vice-President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush attend a fish fry on the South Lawn of the White House. Credit: Mark Reinstein (Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)
President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush 1990. (Photo by Pete Souza/ABC via Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 3: George H.W. Bush throws out the first pitch before the Texas Rangers Opening Day game against the Chicago White Sox at The Ballpark in Arlington on April 3, 2000 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON -- JUNE 10: Laura Bush, Texas Governor George W Bush, George HW Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush at the Astrodome during part of the gala event celebrating the former president's 75th birthday in Houston, Texas on June 10, 1999. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
Former Presidents George HW Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford at a memorial service for King Hussein held at the American Embassy, Amman, Jordan, February 8, 1999. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 7: Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush speak at the University of New Orleans campus December 7, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, along with Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, announced how the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund would be dispersed. Grants worth $30 million would go to Gulf region higher education institutions devastated by Hurricane Katrina, $20 million in grants would go to a ministerial partnership with local and regional faith-based organizations and $40 million would be divided among the three states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama for their recovery and relief funds. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 15: (CHINA OUT) Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush speaks with post-surgery patients of Smile Train during a ceremony to launch the charity's new project on November 15, 2005 in Beijing, China. Free cleft lip surgery and related treatment provided by Smile Train, a non-profit organization, has helped many poor children in China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 02: Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, left, and his wife Barbara, acknowledge the audience on day two of the Republican National Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2008. The RNC will run until Sept. 4. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - SEPTEMBER 02: Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush attends day two of the Republican National Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center on September 2, 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The GOP will nominate U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as the Republican choice for U.S. President on the last day of the convention. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Buddy Peterson, left, Louisville, shook hands with former President George H.W. Bush near the 10th green at the 37th Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Cub on Friday, September 19, 2008, in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by David Perry/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT via Getty Images)
Former President Bill Clinton (L), former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush stand for the National Anthem at the Points of Light Institute Tribute to Former President George H.W. Bush at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts on March 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
HOUSTON - APRIL 08: Brad Mills, manager of the Houston Astros greets former US President George H.W. Bush at Minute Maid Park on April 8, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 13: Former President George H.W. Bush watches a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 13, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
KENNEBUNKPORT, ME - JUNE 12: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop.) Former first lady Barbara Bush greets her husband and former U.S. President George H.W. Bush with a kiss after his successful skydive down to St. Anne's Episcopal Church on June 12, 2014 in Kennebunkport, Maine. The President is celebrating his 90th birthday today. (Photo by Eric Shea/Getty Images)
COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 21: (L-R) Former United States Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton address the audience during the 'Deep from the Heart: The One America Appeal Concert' at Reed Arena on the campus of Texas A&M University on October 21, 2017 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Ford Motor Company)
U.S. first lady Barbara Bush is pictured with President George H.W. Bush durina a presidential vacation in Kennebunkport, Maine, U.S., in this undated photo. U.S.. Former U.S. first lady Barbara Bush, the wife of the 41st president, George H.W. Bush, and mother of the 43rd, George W. Bush died on April 17, 2018. She was 92. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush waves from the field before game five of the 2017 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros in Houston, Texas, U.S. on October 29, 2017. REUTERS/David J. Phillip/Pool via USA TODAY Sports MANDATORY CREDIT
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush participates in the coin toss ahead of the start of Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons as former first lady Barbara Bush looks on in Houston , Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Mar 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; United States former president George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara Bush greet Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo , head coach Jason Garrett and tight end Jason Witten before the finals of the south regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament between the Duke Blue Devils and Gonzaga Bulldogs at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are greeted by former President George H.W. Bush upon their arrival on Air Force One in Houston, Texas April 9, 2014. Obama is in Houston to attend two Democratic Party fund raisers. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
U.S. President Barack Obama and former President George H. W. Bush (R) applaud during an event to honor the winner of the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award at the White House in Washington July 15, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
Former U.S. presidents George W. Bush (C) and his father George H.W. Bush laugh alongside former first ladies Laura Bush (R) and Barbara Bush (L) during the dedication ceremony for the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, April 25, 2013. Obama is in Texas to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with former president George W. Bush in what could serve as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle against terrorism, from the Sept. 11 attacks to the Boston Marathon bombings. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Former United States Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush prepare to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: Former President George H. W. Bush sits in a wheelchair during an event in the East Room at the White House, July 15, 2013 in Washington, DC. Bush joined President Obama in hosting the event to honor the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award winner. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush salutes as he departs the East Front of the U.S. Capitol Building after Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States in Washington January 20, 2009. Barack Obama took power as the first black U.S. president on Tuesday and quickly turned the page on the Bush years, urging Americans to rally to end the worst economic crisis in 70 years and repair the U.S. image abroad. REUTERS/Tannen Maury/Pool (UNITED STATES)
Former U.S. President George. H.W. Bush (C) smiles at his wife Barbara (L), as their son and former President George W. Bush (R) laughs, during the "All Together Now - A Celebration of Service" at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington March 21, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush (R) watches as his son, former President George W. Bush, throws a ceremonial first pitch prior to the start of Game 4 of Major League Baseball's World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers, in Arlington, Texas, October 31, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush attends the funeral service for his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, with his son the 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S., April 21, 2018. REUTERS/Richard Carson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Things to know about the ceremony:

THE SCHEDULE

Bush's casket has been lying in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda since Monday, with a river of mourners passing through around the clock. The viewing comes to a close at 7 a.m. EST Wednesday. The casket and the family will arrive at the cathedral just before 11 a.m., when the service is expected to begin.

HOW TO WATCH

The service is closed to the public, but will be aired live on C-SPAN and covered by major television networks.

WHO WILL SPEAK

Four men are expected to deliver eulogies. The late president's son George W. Bush, also a former president; former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who held the post while the elder Bush was president; former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., who has known the Bush family since the 1960s; and historian Jon Meacham, who wrote a Bush biography.

WHO WILL BE THERE

All eyes will be on the row directly in front of the pulpit. That's where President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, are expected to sit, along with the remaining former presidents and their families: George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and his wife - Trump's 2016 Democratic rival - Hillary Clinton. Trump has had strained relations with all of them. But since Bush's death, Trump has extended traditional courtesies to the Bush family, including allowing them to stay at the presidential guest house and visiting with them there.

Also attending: Britain's Prince Charles, the king and queen of Jordan, Polish President Andrzej Duda and other dignitaries from around the world. Look, too, for members of the late president's administration.

HOVERING

Look for much discussion of Bush's legacy of decency, humor and a determination to avoid referring to himself with the pronoun "I." That last habit alone, instilled in Bush by his mother, sets up a contrast with Trump that no one has to mention out loud. Likely, no one will, in keeping with the Bush family's reported wish that the nation mourn their patriarch without the drama of such distractions.

But Meacham wrote an op-ed for The New York Times this week about Bush that ended with a hard-to-mistake reference.

"The nation mourns him not least because we no longer have a president who knows that the story of the nation is not all about him," Meacham wrote.

BUSH AND THE CATHEDRAL

The late president played an important role in the history of the cathedral chartered by Congress in 1893.

On Sept. 29, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt laid the foundation stone. Exactly 83 years later, Bush was there when the final stone was laid in place.

Bush said at the time: "We have constructed here this symbol of our nation's spiritual life, overlooking the center of our nation's secular life, a symbol which combines the permanence of stone and God — both of which will outlast men and memories."

Bush is the fourth president to have his state funeral at the site, according to the cathedral. The others were Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Seven other presidents had memorial services there.

A BIT ABOUT STATE FUNERALS

For U.S. presidents, there's a whole list of customs, protocols and military honors that influence a national farewell, but much of the affair is subject to the family's wishes. The president's survivors are entitled to a military escort for the immediate family, for example, until the remains are buried. A nine-person team that carries the casket is another option. And a flag-draped casket is an honor afforded military veterans and the president as commander in chief.

Bush was a veteran of World War II.

THE LAST TIME

Sen. John McCain's funeral was held at Washington National Cathedral after he died in August of brain cancer. Trump, who derided McCain's heroism in Vietnam and prodded the senator even during his illness, was asked by the family to stay away. But it seemed like the rest of Washington attended and the event became widely regarded as a repudiation of the current president. The assembled crowd burst into applause when McCain's daughter, Meghan, loudly rejected Trumpism from the pulpit without naming the president. Trump spent the day playing golf.

WHERE TO NEXT

Bush's casket will return to Texas late Wednesday for the last time.

He's expected to lie in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston until 7 a.m. EST Thursday. The church will also hold its own memorial service for the former president later that morning.

A motorcade will take Bush's body to Union Pacific Railroad Westfield Auto Facility, where a funeral train will transport the late president's remains to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. He'll be laid to rest on the grounds of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, near his wife, Barbara, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953 at age 3.

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