How John McCain's final message to America came together

Mark Salter on McCain's "magnanimous" legacy

One of the pallbearers at Sen. John McCain's funeral on Saturday will be Mark Salter, the senator's speechwriter, confidant and former chief of staff. McCain, who had been suffering from an aggressive form of brain cancer, died Saturday at the age of 81 at home in Arizona. The two collaborated on seven books over the years and Salter also helped McCain draft his final letter to the American people.

"He mentioned to me that he wanted to have a statement released after he had passed away, along the lines of his concession speech in 2008, actually. A big part of that was taken from there. And so we put together something for him, and he looked at it and he adjusted a few edits here and there and read it a few times, said, 'OK, put it in a drawer.' And that's what we did," Salter told "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday.

Over the years, the two men traveled the world together, often to far-flung places like Burma and Laos in what Salter said was an effort by McCain to extend America's values to places where they didn't exist.

Monday afternoon, President Trump offered his first public tribute to McCain after two days of near-silence. He also lowered the flag atop the White House to half-staff again, joining others in Washington and around the country. The White House flag had been raised to full staff Monday morning.

John McCain makes plea for civility in last letter to Americans

In his final statement, McCain wrote, "We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries." "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell noted that it seemed as if Sen. McCain was directly addressing President Trump.

"I don't think he anticipated what President Trump would be doing the days after his death, no," Salter replied. "I think he had made that argument already in the fall. He wanted to address a kind of nativism that seemed, you know, populism that was becoming nativism, you know, that he had argued against before."

For Salter, working with McCain was the "honor of a lifetime."

"I met him in New Orleans in 1988, just sort of accidentally, and it was the luckiest day of my life," he said.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama will deliver deliver eulogies at Washington's National Cathedral this Saturday, at the senator's request. According to The Associated Press, two White House officials said McCain's family had asked, before his death, that Mr. Trump not attend the funeral services.

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