Biden to Pay Tribute to Late John McCain in Arizona, Deliver Speech on 'Strengthening Democracy'

Biden to Pay Tribute to Late John McCain in Arizona, Deliver Speech on 'Strengthening Democracy'
President Joe Biden visits the John Sidney McCain III Memorial in Hanoi on September 11, 2023. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Katabella Roberts

President Joe Biden will deliver a speech in Arizona on Sept. 28 paying tribute to his late friend and colleague Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate who represented the state in the U.S. Senate for more than three decades.

According to the White House, President Biden will deliver the speech in the Phoenix area of Arizona, which is likely to be a key battleground state in the upcoming 2024 Presidential election.

His speech will focus on "the work we must do together to strengthen our democracy," the White House said.

Earlier this month, the president visited the John Sidney McCain III Memorial in Hanoi, Vietnam to honor the late Senator and Navy pilot whose plane was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 during the Vietnam War.

McCain spent more than five years in the Vietnamese city as a prisoner of war at what American soldiers had dubbed the "Hanoi Hilton."
During that speech, President Biden shared his love for the former lawmaker, whom he said he "misses dearly."
McCain served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before he was elected to the Senate in 1986. He launched his presidential campaign in 2000 but ultimately lost to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

'Democracy' Key Focus of Biden Campaign

He lost a second presidential election race in 2008 to Barack Obama.

McCain died in August 2018 at the age of 81 following complications related to his battle with brain cancer.

President Biden's campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz said Thursday that "democracy" will remain a key theme in his upcoming speeches amid his 2024 White House bid.

The president announced his reelection bid in April. A CNN poll published earlier this month found that nearly half of registered voters would prefer any Republican presidential nominee to President Biden.
"President Biden believes threats to our nation’s democracy remain central to the 2024 election, including from Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans’ ongoing efforts to deny free and fair elections and undermine our democratic institutions," the spokesperson said. "The president will continue his career-long fight to stand up and defend democracy, our personal freedoms, our civil rights and the very values that make us Americans."

Second GOP Debate Looms

The president will also attend a fundraiser hosted by Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Rep. Greg Stanton, (D-Ariz.) during his trip to the state, The Arizona Republic reports. 

His trip to the state will take place one day after the second Republican Party presidential debate which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on Sept. 27.

At least six Republican candidates will likely take part in the upcoming California debate: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, biotech investor Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, although the Republican National Committee (RNC) has not yet confirmed which candidates have qualified to attend.

It is not yet clear if North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson have qualified to attend.

Former President Donald Trump has also not indicated if he will be attending the debate, after skipping the first Republican debate in Milwaukee in August, citing his clear lead in multiple polls.

Instead, President Trump opted for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

In August, President Trump posted on Truth Social that he would "not be doing the debates," adding that "the public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had."
Emel Akan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.