WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) – The widow of Republican Senator John McCain spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday on behalf of presidential candidate Joe Biden, a reminder of her late husband’s bitter relationship with President Donald Trump.
The prerecorded segment added to a parade of Republicans invited to speak about Biden’s life and career at the four-night political convention and sketches an implicit contrast with the Republican Trump.
Biden and McCain became friends after meeting in the 1970s, when the young Democratic senator traveled on work trips with the former Navy captain and Vietnam War prisoner of war.
The relationship endured through the Republican’s own Senate career and as the two competed on rival White House tickets when McCain, as the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, faced Barack Obama, who won the election with Biden as running mate.
“They would just sit and joke,” Cindy McCain said in a clip of the video about the Biden-McCain relationship played during the convention. “It was like a comedy show sometimes to watch the two of them.”
By contrast, McCain and Trump clashed regularly, with the senator challenging the president’s policies on healthcare and immigration. Trump disparaged McCain’s military service and volunteered months after McCain’s death that he was “never a fan” of the late senator. “And I never will be,” Trump added.
The bitterness was so deep that McCain, who helped plan his own funeral in 2018, made it clear to family that he wanted Biden to speak and that Trump was not welcome.
“My husband and Vice President Biden enjoyed a 30+ year friendship,” Cindy McCain posted on Twitter. Although not expected to explicitly endorse Biden, she wrote: “So I was honored to accept the invitation from the Biden campaign to participate in a video celebrating their relationship.”
Some Democrats have bristled over the extensive participation of Republicans in their party’s convention, which was scaled back due to the coronavirus.
Speakers at the convention on Tuesday also included Republican former Secretary of State Colin Powell, following remarks on Monday by Republicans including John Kasich, a former Ohio governor and frequent Trump critic.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Howard Goller)