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‘The president asked me to be here on behalf of a grateful nation', VP Mike Pence honors John McCain

"We will ever remember that John McCain served his country and that John McCain served his country honorably," Pence said.
Vice President Mike Pence delivers remarks as Roberta McCain, the mother of Sen. John McCain, and granddaughter Meghan McCain attend the ceremony of John McCain inside the Rotunda of the US Capitol, August 31 2018 (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Vice President Mike Pence honored late Senator John McCain as he lain in state Friday at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

In an official presidential proclamation Monday, President Donald Trump said he had asked the vice president to offer an address at the ceremony honoring McCain.

“The president asked me to be here on behalf of a grateful nation,” Pence said. “To pay a debt of honor and respect to a man who served our country throughout his life in uniform and in public office, and it is my great honor to be here.”

Thousands were gathered Friday to honor the American patriot.

“We will ever remember that John McCain served his country and that John McCain served his country honorably,” Pence said.

The White House came under fire two days after McCain's death when flags were raised to full-staff, while the U.S. Capitol and other federal buildings remained at half-staff. Following criticism, the flags were ordered back at half-staff.

RELATED: White House lowers flags to half-staff to honor McCain following outcry

Additionally, President Trump only offered a brief and impersonal statement on McCain's passing on Twitter and USA Today reported that he had to be pressured to make additional remarks.

President Trump, who had a rocky relationship with McCain, was in Charlotte, North Carolina meeting with his supporters during McCain's lying in state ceremonies.

President Trump, speaking with Bloomberg News on the day McCain's life was honored at a memorial service in Phoenix, said he believed he had "done everything" he could for the Arizona Republican.

When asked whether the president missed a chance to unite a mourning country, Trump defended himself.

"No, I don’t think I did at all," he told Bloomberg. "I’ve done everything that they requested and no, I don’t think I have at all."

Still, he acknowledged his rocky relationship with the respected senator, which included McCain criticizing Trump's rhetoric during the 2016 presidential campaign and came to a climax when McCain voted down the Trump administration's attempt at repealing Obamacare.

"We had our disagreements and they were very strong disagreements," the president said. "I disagreed with many of the things that I assume he believed in."

Their quarrels continued even after McCain revealed he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer last year.

RELATED | Trump defends the way he handled McCain's death

Pence delivered an executive wreath in front of McCain's casket on behalf of the executive branch.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also put wreaths around McCain’s casket representing the House and Senate.

“Generations of Americans will continue to marvel at the man who lies before us,” McConnell said. “The cocky, handsome, Naval aviator who barely scraped through school and then fought for freedom in the skies.”

House Speaker Ryan said that McCain deserves to be remembered as he wanted to be remembered. When talking about what he would tell future generations, Ryan said, “[McCain] is one of the bravest souls our nation has ever produced.”

Saturday, McCain will be carried from the U.S. Capitol to the National Cathedral were a memorial service will be held to celebrate his. He will be buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Sunday.

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