Tim Russert’s private funeral service at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington's Georgetown on Wednesday morning literally brought together the Democratic and Republican presumptive presidential nominees, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Az.). They sat together at the request of the Russert family and at the conclusion of the funeral I was told by someone who was there, the two men hugged.
I was honored to be invited to the memorial service for Russert in the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall on Wednesday afternoon. The details of the wonderful speeches by Tom Brokaw, Betsy Fischer, Sister Lucille Socciarelli, Al Hunt, Mario Cuomo, Mike Barnicle, Maria Shriver, Brian Williams, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Luke Russert are the subject of many stories elsewhere. Here’s more.
Sitting in the service off to a side, I realized what a special event I was at by the people who I took in with one glance. Enough newsmakers for years of “Meet the Press.”
Just a bit in front of my sightline was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, sitting next to former President Bill Clinton, who was next to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) who was next to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served in the Clinton White House.
To my right gaze, across the aisle and down a row was Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and his wife, Teresa. Behind down a bit was a length of senators: Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fl.); Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); Sen. Joe Lieberman (DI-Ct.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Nearby was former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.)
Obama chief strategist David Axelrod was next to Obama communications chief Robert Gibbs. Rows behind them I spotted Karl Rove and then Terry McAuliffe, who just wrapped up duties as Clinton’s campaign chairman. And behind them was Clinton advisor Harold Ickes.
Looking to my left was Carl Bernstein, sitting next to Bob Woodward; a row away was Dan Rather.
Russert “would have loved to be here,” a friend of his told me as we watched the whos who at the reception on the Roof Terrace of the Kennedy Center that followed the service.
There was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and a host of television news stars: Barbara Walters, Andrea Mitchell and her husband, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan; Charlie Rose,Ann Curry, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist, Chris Matthews, Dan Abrams and Greta Van Susteren.