Former President Barack Obama was surprised to receive a phone call last April from his former rival John McCain, who had a request: to give one of the compliments at his funeral.
Obama beat McCain in the 2008 presidential election, a contest filled with bitter moments, including conspiracy theorists who preach that Obama was born in Africa and McCain's anger at the attention Obama was receiving.
And, although the two had a cordial working relationship, they were never personally close.
Senator John McCain and then President-elect Barack Obama in Obama's transition office shortly after the 2008 presidential election
George W. Bush and John McCain adopt in a presidential primary debate of December 1999
So Obama was surprised by the invitation, his assistants told CNN, although he immediately said yes to McCain's wishes.
Former George W. Bush, who received a similar call from McCain in the spring, was also surprised, the network reported.
Both men will speak on Saturday at McCain's funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington.
Bush and McCain are Republicans, but Bush defeated McCain for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, which included a bitter accusation before the crucial South Carolina primary that McCain fathered a black child, a reference to the daughter and Cindy McCain. adopted from Bangladesh.
McCain's requests, however, had a greater purpose: a not very subtle blow to a person that McCain did not want there: the current occupant of the White House, President Donald Trump.
The deceased senator, before dying, made it known that Trump was expelled from his funeral.
What McCain and Obama have in common is mutual mutual respect and a growing sense of alarm in the volatile political climate caused by Trump.
But his call was arranged by attendees and it was not simply McCain calling him directly, which is what he does with his friends, CNN reported.
The two have only spoken a few times since Obama left office and one of those occasions was when Obama called the senator to thank him for his approval, there was not a vote on an alternative to the Republican health plan that would have killed Obamacare.
Obama had not visited McCain at his ranch in Sedona, Arizona, in his last days as others have done, including George and Laura Bush.
McCain and Trump clashed repeatedly during the 2016 presidential election, when McCain emerged as a harsh critic of his party's candidate.
They were never able to close the gap between them.
Senator John McCain and then Senator Barack Obama testify during a Senate Committee on National Security and Government Affairs on Capitol Hill on July 18, 2006
Republican presidential candidate John McCain shakes hands with President George W. Bush after receiving his support in the White House Rose Garden on March 5, 2008.
The long-running dispute between the two men peaked on Monday, after the White House raised its flag to all staff, prompting outrage over what people considered an insult to the late senator.
The president gave in Monday afternoon: after the commander of the influential group of veterans, the US Legion issued a statement requesting that the flag be lowered.
"Despite our differences in politics and politics, I respect the service of Senator John McCain to our country and, in his honor, I have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-mast until the day of his burial," said Trump. in a sentence.
Obama and Bush issued statements immediately after McCain's death.
But McCain came to the last word when he pronounced a severe rebuke to Trump in his final letter to the United States, read by his assistant Rick Davis after his death.
"We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment, hatred and violence in every corner of the world," McCain's statement said. "We weaken it when we hide behind the walls, instead of knocking them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, instead of trusting that they are the great force for change that they have always been."
McCain also finished his letter with a note of hope: "Do not despair of our current difficulties, but always believe in the promise and greatness of America, because here nothing is inevitable, Americans never give up. We never give up. we hide from history, we make history. "
Obama and Bush will speak at McCain's funeral on Saturday at the National Cathedral in Washington; McCain's remains lie in the state at the Arizona State Capitol rotunda
President Trump had initially resisted calls to talk about John McCain before he gave in
The last words of Senator John McCain included a rebuke to President Trump
The bad blood of Trump and McCain goes back to June 2015 when Trump announced that he would run for president and called the rapists and drug traffickers of Mexican immigrants during a speech.
McCain distanced himself from the future president by saying in an interview that he did not agree with Trump's comment. Trump counterattacked by calling McCain "incompetent" during a July 2015 rally at the Phoenix Convention Center.
When Trump visited Iowa in July 2015, as part of the Republican presidential election campaign, he told the Family Leaders Summit that McCain was not a war hero because he was "captured."
"He is not a war hero," Trump said. "He was a war hero because he was captured." I like people who were not captured. "
McCain, a former Navy pilot, spent approximately five and a half years of the Vietnam War in a known North Vietnamese prison known as the "Hanoi Hilton," where he was repeatedly tortured. He spent two of those years in solitary confinement.
The two men also fought during the campaign, when McCain criticized Trump's comments about a Gold Star Family that spoke during the Democratic National Convention.
Khizr Muazzam Khan, a Pakistani American, spoke about the death of his son in Iraq. He was accompanied by his wife Ghazala, who was standing next to him as he spoke.
Khan criticized Trump, who later defended his work for veterans and then commented on Ghazala's presence on stage, implying a connection between his silence and gender roles in Islam: "If you look at his wife, she I was standing there, she had nothing to say, probably, maybe she was not allowed to have anything to say.
Down by order of the president: the flag on the residence in the White House was lowered on Monday after criticism that John McCain was not being honored
A black tablecloth and white roses were placed on the desk of John McCain's Senate, a tradition for senators who die while in the office.
Officials from both parties criticized his statements, but the hardest came from McCain, who issued a statement describing the incident as his "most severe disagreement" with Trump, saying: "While our party has awarded him the nomination, he is not accompanied by a Unrestricted license to defame those that are the best among us & # 39;
The two men attacked from one side to another during Trump's time in the White House with McCain emerging as one of the President's sharpest critics.
In July, McCain attacked the president after Trump said during a meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he accepted Russia's claim that they did not interfere in the US presidential election.
McCain said of Trump's comments: "No previous president has humiliated himself more abjectly before a tyrant."
Last year, when the president spoke of the senator, he often refers to the gesture of his thumb down that accompanied his dramatic return to the Senate on July 27, 2017 after being diagnosed with brain cancer, to vote on a Republican proposal hastily. met repeal and replace Obamacare.
He walked to the Senate to a standing ovation from the legislators and gave a dramatic thumbs down to signal his "no" vote on the legislation, killing Republican plans to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.
In addition, earlier this month, Trump did not recognize McCain during the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act John S McCain, which lawmakers implemented to honor McCain's leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee and his years of service. in the Senate.