John McCain's 2008 Running Mate Sarah Palin Is Not Invited to His Funeral: 'It's Sad'
“Two names you won’t see on the guest list: Trump and Palin,” says a Capitol Hill source with knowledge of funeral plans for McCain, who died of brain cancer Saturday at age 81.
“Invitations were not extended” to the two political figures, confirms Carla Eudy, a fundraiser who has worked with and been friends with the McCain family for decades.
A source with knowledge of the funeral arrangements adds that several longtime McCain staffers were also removed from the invite list in recent days by Eudy.
The fundraiser, who helped plan the memorial services, did not specifically address where the requests originated, nor how they were conveyed.
Speculation in Washington, D.C., is that they came from “the family.”
“My guess is, it came from Cindy,” says a source close to the McCain family. “She is very protective of John’s memory and legacy. She’s also a grieving widow. I think she wants to get through this as best she can.”
Speculation also has focused on the process of disinviting someone to a funeral.
“Donald Trump and Sarah Palin were not served official notice outright,” says the source close to the McCain family. “I want to make that clear. It wasn’t a no-trespass order. They won’t be turned away by guards if they show up at the funeral.”
The stay-away messages were sent through intermediaries, the friend tells PEOPLE.
The messages were received, sources say.
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Trump and McCain had a heated and very public feud, stemming from days leading up to the Republican primary. In that sense, a Senate source says, it “follows that the family could feel less than warm” about Trump.
Not so with Palin, other political operators say.
“It’s sad” that Palin was told to stay away, says a Republican source with ties to both camps. “They had a good friendship.”
Wednesday marks the 10-year anniversary of McCain selecting Palin as his vice presidential running mate. Palin is credited with reenergizing McCain’s poll numbers during his failed presidential bid in the fall of 2008. She also helped his re-election when he needed a boost.
In McCain’s two-hour HBO documentary and book, The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and other Appreciations, released in May, he praised Palin for her work on the campaign but admitted for the first time that he regretted choosing her as his running mate.
Palin said at the time that she feels a “perpetual gut punch” every time she hears reports about McCain’s regrets, but added that “that’s not what Sen. McCain has told me all these years.”
Palin paid tribute to McCain on Saturday after news broke of his death.
“Today we lost an American original. Sen. John McCain was a maverick and a fighter, never afraid to stand for his beliefs. John never took the easy path in life — and through sacrifice and suffering he inspired others to serve something greater than self.”
She continued, “John McCain was my friend. I will remember the good times.”
Another source close to Palin tells PEOPLE now that “out of respect for Sen. McCain and his family we have nothing to add at this point. The Palin family will always cherish their friendship with the McCains and hold those memories dear.”
Washington, meanwhile, is already looking past the funerals to see who will be appointed to replace McCain in the Senate.
Rumors that Cindy McCain is a candidate spring from Cindy herself, a source tells PEOPLE.
“I didn’t hear it directly from her, but that’s the common inside knowledge,” says the Senate source. “It was Cindy’s idea.”
Insiders expect the replacement to be named soon.
“The Governor of Arizona is coming into town [Washington, D.C.] on Saturday,” a Capitol Hill source says. “He’s going to meet with some folks to discuss the replacement.”
“We expect to know who it is next week,” says a political source. “It’s a hot topic in Washington. Everyone is caught up in this.”