While minutes before the sun had shone over the dome, as McCain, carried by an honor guard, ascended the steps, the clouds opened and rain poured down. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in Phoenix. They set the casket atop President Abraham Lincoln's catafalque, a wooden structure that has been used in several ceremonies in past years and McCain's former colleagues looked on.
"He had America's fighting spirit", McConnell remembered.
McCain, who planned his funeral before died, banned Trump from his memorials but wanted Pence invited.
Congressional leaders are expected to deliver remarks at the memorial, as well as Vice-President Mike Pence.
Dabbing his eyes as he recalled his friend, Biden said McCain "could not stand the abuse of power wherever he saw it, in whatever form, in whatever country".
"At any moment, he might be preparing an eloquent reflection on human liberty or a devastating joke, served up with his signature cackle and that John McCain glint in his eye", he said.
People close to the White House and McCain's family said President Donald Trump, who has mocked McCain for getting captured during the Vietnam War, has been asked to stay away from all events.
"He held fast to his faith in America through six decades of service".
"As President Trump said yesterday, we respect his service to the country", he added. "We will forever remember that John McCain served his country and John McCain served his country honorably". Following that, bipartisan leaders - McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Ryan and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi - will present wreaths.
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Biden advised McCain's friends and family to remember snapshots of him, such as a glance or a touch.
Considering all the disgusting things President Donald Trump, 72, said about the late John McCain, can anyone blame Meghan McCain, 33, for not looking thrilled that Vice President Mike Pence, 59, showed up at her father's memorial? Joe Lieberman and actor Warren Beatty were among those pausing at McCain's casket.
The benediction was delivered by Rear Admiral Barry Black, the Senate chaplain who referred to McCain as a drum major: "May the life of this American patriot inspire us to see you more clearly, to love you more dearly, and to follow you more almost each day".
"Airing our great debates is a gentle way to describe how John approached the work of a senator", said McConnell, who spoke first. He has been celebrated for his ability to reach across the aisle and at times buck his own party, as he did in the summer of 2017 when a simple thumbs down stopped Republicans from moving forward with a plan that would have advanced a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
"John was both a romantic and a cynic.in love with and passionate about the causes he fought for, yet clear-eyed about the long odds he often faced in a world hostile to our ideals", said Sen.
An invitation-only national memorial service celebrating the senator's life will begin at 10 a.m.at Washington National Cathedral. "We had a hell of a lot of family fights", Biden said to laughter from the 3 500 or so mourners packing the auditorium. "We both lamented, watching it change".
He arrives back in Washington on Friday to lie in state under the rotunda for public viewing and a formal ceremony.
The absence of Trump - who on Friday will travel to one of his private golf clubs for a campaign fundraiser - reflected the animosity between the two men that lingered even after McCain's death on Saturday from brain cancer.