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President Biden will honor the late Republican Sen. John McCain, his longtime Senate colleague, in Tempe, Arizona, on Thursday at the dedication of a new library named for the senator and war hero.

Mr. Biden will be giving a speech on what the White House has characterized as “protecting” democracy, which a White House official said Wednesday night is a “central cause of Joe Biden’s presidency.”

Cindy McCain, other members of the McCain family and Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, are expected to be there. The McCain Library will be developed by the McCain Institute and Arizona State University, with funds from the American Rescue Plan going toward construction.

Mr. Biden and McCain served together in the Senate for decades and were close friends. In 2008, they found themselves on opposite sides of the bitter 2008 presidential election, when McCain was the Republican nominee and Mr. Biden was running to become vice president. 

Sen. John McCain receives the the 2017 Liberty Medal from former Vice President Joe Biden at the National Constitution Center on Oct. 16, 2017, in Philadelphia.

William Thomas Cain / Getty Images

Mr. Biden delivered an emotional eulogy at McCain’s funeral after his death from brain cancer in 2018, saying he “always thought of John as a brother, with a hell of a lot of family fights.” He awarded him a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2022.

While in Vietnam earlier this month, Mr. Biden visited the John McCain Memorial in Hanoi, near the spot where McCain’s Skyhawk dive bomber was shot down by North Vietnamese fighters in 1967. He was captured and served more than five years in a POW camp.

“I miss him. He was a good friend,” Mr. Biden said after visiting the memorial. 

McCain represented Arizona in the Senate for over three decades, and the state is one of the key battleground states that Mr. Biden must defend in 2024. McCain had been one of the most vocal critics of former President Donald Trump, and Trump disparaged McCain frequently, even after his brain cancer diagnosis. 

Cindy McCain, his widow, endorsed Mr. Biden for president in 2020. The president appointed her to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture in 2021, and she became the executive director of the World Food Programme earlier this year.

Until 2020, Arizona had been a Republican stronghold for years, with two Republican senators and a streak of supporting GOP presidential candidates that stretched back to 1996. But following former Sen. Jeff Flake’s retirement and McCain’s death in 2018, both Senate seats flipped to Democrats and Mr. Biden narrowly won the state in 2020. 

In 2020, Democrat Mark Kelly defeated Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who had been appointed to fill McCain’s seat, in a special election. He successfully defended the seat against Blake Masters in 2022, when Hobbs defeated Republican Kari Lake to take the governor’s mansion as well. 

How to watch Biden speak in Tempe, Arizona

  • What: President Biden honors the late Sen. John McCain
  • Date: Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023
  • Time: 2:45 p.m. ET 
  • Location: Tempe, Arizona
  • Online stream: Live on CBS News in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.