Biden announces library honoring John McCain in Arizona

TEMPE, Ariz. — President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that federal funding will go toward creating a new library and museum dedicated to the late Sen. John McCain.

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Biden made the announcement in a speech in Arizona focused on the importance of preserving democracy.

Update 3:50 p.m. EDT Sept. 28: The president announced that money from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will be used to create the McCain Library.

“This future library will provide the beating heart and soul to help further the causes that John so dearly believed in and will be the impetus to bring them back to where they belong, to the place that he loved so: Arizona,” McCain’s widow, Cindy, said before introducing Biden ahead of remarks at the Tempe Center for the Arts on Thursday.

Original report: Biden arrived in Phoenix on Wednesday night ahead of an appearance at the Tempe Center for the Arts on Thursday. The president will deliver remarks to honor the legacy left by McCain, a Republican and friend of Biden’s who represented Arizona in the Senate for more than 30 years before his death from brain cancer in 2018.

During the speech, Biden will announce that funding from the American Rescue Plan will be used to build the McCain Library in partnership with Arizona State University and the McCain Institute, The Washington Post reported. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was passed to help the nation recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

People familiar with the plan for the McCain Library described it to The New York Times as “a presidential-style library and museum for a man who tried twice to reach the White House but never did.” It will house the late senator’s papers and exhibits about his life, the newspaper reported.

Biden will focus Thursday on threats to democracy, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks shared by the White House ahead of his speech.

“I have come to honor the McCain Institute and Library because they are home to a proud Republican who put country first,” the president will say, according to the White House. “Our commitment should be no less because democracy should unite all Americans – regardless of political affiliation.”

He will focus on the threat posed by the MAGA, or “Make America Great Again,” movement launched by former President Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign, calling it “an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs of our democracy.”

“Not every Republican – not even the majority of Republicans – adhere to the extremist MAGA ideology,” Biden will say, according to the White House. “I know because I’ve been able to work with Republicans my whole career. But there is no question that today’s Republican Party is driven and intimidated by MAGA extremists. Their extreme agenda, if carried out, would fundamentally alter the institutions of American Democracy as we know it.”

McCain was a vocal critic of Trump before his death.

Last year, the former president launched a bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Polls have shown him to be the frontrunner in the race. If he becomes the party’s nominee, he’s expected to face Biden for the second time following his election loss in 2020.

McCain, who earned a reputation during his lifetime for being a maverick willing to buck his party, ran for president twice: in 2000 and in 2008. In 2000, he lost his bid for the Republican presidential nomination to George W. Bush. He became the party’s nominee in 2008 but lost the general election to Barack Obama.

He spent more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy and endured five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He launched his political career in 1982, joining the House of Representatives four years before he went on to become a U.S. senator.

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