Trump’s aides reportedly knew he could be criticized for holding a campaign rally while the nation mourns John McCain but decided to hold it anyway

President Donald Trump behind his desk at the White House in Washington.

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President Donald Trump behind his desk at the White House in Washington.
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Markets Insider

  • As the nation prepares for Sen. John McCain’s final send-off, President Donald Trump is scheduled to headline a campaign rally.
  • McCain, who died Saturday at 81, will be taken by military transport to an air base outside Washington on Thursday – just as Trump is holding the rally in Indiana.
  • White House aides considered the optics of holding a rally while the nation mourns the longtime senator and Vietnam War veteran but ultimately decided that it was not possible to change Trump’s schedule, The New York Times reported.

As the nation prepares for Sen. John McCain’s final send-off, President Donald Trump is scheduled to headline a campaign rally in Indiana on Thursday.

White House aides considered the optics of holding a rally while the nation mourns the longtime senator and Vietnam War veteran but ultimately decided that it was not possible to change Trump’s schedule, according to a New York Times report published Wednesday.

These aides concluded that Trump could weather any negative fallout from such a move, The Times reported, citing two sources familiar with the planning.

McCain, who died Saturday at 81, will be taken by military transport to an air base outside Washington on Thursday ahead of a televised memorial service in the Capitol’s rotunda on Friday that Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan are expected to attend.

Another memorial service will be held on Saturday at Washington National Cathedral, where former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will deliver eulogies – something McCain asked of them months ago.

McCain will be buried at his alma mater, the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, next to Chuck Larson, a former Naval Academy classmate and lifelong friend.

As McCain meticulously planned his funeral processions and invited many notable politicians before his death, he intentionally boxed out Trump, an unprecedented move against a sitting president. Over the weekend, Trump will instead be at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

The two feuded for years over public policy and other matters. In 1999, Trump downplayed McCain’s military service and suggested he was considered an American hero only because he was captured and held as a prisoner of war for five years in Hanoi. Trump echoed the remarks during his presidential campaign in 2016.

In turn, McCain frequently criticized Trump’s policies, including matters of national security, healthcare, and immigration. Last year, McCain rebuked what he called the “half-baked, spurious nationalism” that Trump popularized during his run for the White House.