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The contest has been overshadowed in recent days by the death on Saturday of John McCain, Arizona's longtime Republican senator.

NPR details the groups who implored the president to make the move, including the American Legion and the veterans group AMVETS; Politico has comments from Republican senators on the issue.

The White House flag was lowered after McCain's death on Saturday - but it was once again at the top of the flagpole on Monday morning.

At the same time, the White House released a statement from the president in which Trump said that, despite differences on policy and politics, he respects McCain's service to the US and ordered flags be flown at half-staff until his internment. All three Republicans have fought over who is closest to Trump and most enthusiastic about his agenda, highlighting the praise Trump has offered them over the past few years.

The episode highlighted the outsider president's impulse to harbour personal resentments regardless of political repercussions.

President Donald Trump will not attend and is not thought to have even been invited to the service, having had a long-running feud with Mr McCain.

The White House typically honors deceased lawmakers by keeping the building's flags at half-staff until their funerals, according to The Hill. "Our hearts and prayers are with you".

John McCain reportedly asked that Donald Trump not attend his funeral.

"I'm well aware that McCain could be maddeningly inconsistent and flawed".

McCain and Trump were not exactly best buddies during the President's first 20 months in office.

Privately, he has groused about such slights as his belief that McCain did not appreciate his endorsement in the senator's 2016 re-election bid. He said McCain was considered a war hero "because he was captured" and said he liked "people that weren't captured".

Flags flying a half-staff in honor of Sen. Fitzgerald then visited McCain in February, a moment immortalized on Twitter.

Finally, Trump seemed to relent to pressure from veterans and members of Congress saying later he respected McCain's service to the nation and had ordered flags flown at half-staff.

While the president's statement sought to defuse the controversy, the upcoming weeklong celebration of McCain's life is likely to bring new awkwardness.

A group of current and former US officials from across the political spectrum is set to take part in Saturday's memorial service for Senator John McCain, one of the last in a string of services honoring the longtime lawmaker who died Saturday at the age of 81.

"At the request of the McCain family, I have also authorized military transportation of Senator McCain's remains from Arizona to Washington, DC, military pallbearers and band support, and a horse and caisson transport during the service at the United States Naval Academy".

Words honoring McCain came in from around the world. John McCain expressed his deep gratitude and love of country in his final letter and implored Americans to put aside "tribal rivalries" and focus on what unites. "He disagreed with the president in certain areas and wasn't too courteous about it".

John McCain was shot down over Hanoi in 1967. He was a war hero because he was captured. I will always treasure the constant friendship he showed to the people of Israel and to me personally.