The Latest: Obama criticized for missing Reagan funeral

AP News
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Posted: Mar 11, 2016 3:25 PM
The Latest: Obama criticized for missing Reagan funeral

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on Nancy Reagan's funeral (all times local):

12:25 p.m.

President Obama is taking heat from some conservatives for skipping Nancy Reagan's funeral Friday, opting instead to speak at a tech festival in Austin, Texas.

Michelle Obama is attending the funeral.

But Barack Obama is hardly the first president to miss a former first lady's funeral.

President Jimmy Carter did not attend Mamie Eisenhower's funeral in 1979 but his wife, Rosalynn Carter, did. President Ronald Reagan did not attend Bess Truman's funeral in 1982 but Nancy Reagan went.

President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, did not attend Pat Nixon's funeral in 1993 and President George W. Bush did not attend Lady Bird Johnson's funeral in 2007. His wife, Laura, and his mother, Barbara Bush, attended. When Betty Ford died in 2011, Obama did not attend but his wife did.

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12:05 p.m.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan's children are recounting memories at their mother's funeral at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

Daughter Patti Davis described to mourners Friday how Nancy Reagan was adamant about reuniting with her husband, who died in 2004.

Davis described her parents as "two halves of a circle," recalling a long-ago memory of seeing the two of them sitting on a Southern California beach at sunset in what she called an impenetrable "island for two."

Son Ron Prescott Reagan told the guests there likely would not have been a President Ronald Reagan without Nancy Reagan, saying she had an absolute belief in him, as well as provided guidance and a refuge.

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11:45 a.m.

Mourners at Nancy Reagan's funeral are hearing prayers, music and reminiscences of the former first lady.

A diverse group of guests is attending Friday's funeral at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

Among mourners are former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, as well as first lady Michelle Obama. Also present are presidential candidate and former first lady Hillary Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Former Reagan administration official James Baker has recounted the first meeting of then-Nancy Davis and Ronald Reagan, and later her devastation when her husband was wounded in an assassination attempt.

Veteran television journalists Diane Sawyer and Tom Brokaw also have given recollections of Nancy Reagan.

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11:20 a.m.

Mourners at the funeral of Nancy Reagan have heard former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney read an adoring letter written by Ronald Reagan to his wife on their first Christmas in the White House in 1981.

The letter said she filled his entire life with "warmth and love."

The funeral at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, began Friday with service members carrying the casket in front of mourners and a prayer by the Rev. Stuart A. Kenworthy, vicar of the Washington National Cathedral.

A local high school choir sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," and Nancy Reagan's niece Anne Peterson read from Proverbs.

A thousand guests were invited to the funeral at the hilltop library northwest of Los Angeles where the former first lady will be buried next to her husband Friday night.

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11:05 a.m.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan's funeral has begun at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

Friday's program began with military service members bringing the casket in front of guests and a prayer by the Rev. Stuart A. Kenworthy, vicar of the Washington National Cathedral.

A local high school choir is singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Nancy Reagan's remains will be buried at the library alongside her late husband, who died in 2004.

The casket will be lowered into the tomb beside the former president, the moment watched over by senior library staff. Ronald Reagan's headstone was removed to add Nancy Reagan's name and will be restored after the burial.

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10:10 a.m.

A diverse group of mourners is arriving for Nancy Reagan's funeral at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

Early arrivals Friday include former Reagan administration official Ed Meese, Katie Couric, Larry King, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, television writer and producer Norman Lear and Steve Ford, son of President Gerald Ford.

Also on hand are actress Bo Derek, actor Tom Selleck and singer Johnny Mathis. Mathis became friends with Nancy Reagan and often visited her home in the Bel Air area of Los Angeles, where she died Sunday at age 94. Mathis says he and the former first lady enjoyed singing together.

The funeral begins at 11 a.m. and concludes with burial next to the casket of Ronald Reagan, who died in 2004.

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9:35 a.m.

Guests are arriving for Nancy Reagan's funeral at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

About 1,000 relatives, dignitaries and friends are expected for Friday's memorial, which begins at 11 a.m. PST and will conclude with burial of the former first lady next to her husband, who died in 2004.

The funeral will be held outdoors under tents at the hilltop library northwest of Los Angeles.

Rain is in the forecast, but its timing is uncertain. Clouds are building over the nearby mountains, the wind is picking up and the temperature is dropping but rain hasn't started.

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12:13 a.m.

Nancy Reagan will be buried alongside her husband on a Southern California hilltop.

Former President George W. Bush, Michelle Obama and three former first ladies, and a long list of other celebrities and dignitaries are set to attend Friday's funeral at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

Ronald Reagan's Chief of Staff James A. Baker, newsman Tom Brokaw and Nancy Reagan's two children are set to speak at the ceremony.

Current first lady Michelle Obama plans to be in attendance at the funeral, as do former first ladies Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.

The ceremony comes after two days of public viewing at the library, and sunny skies could give way to clouds and possibly rain before the proceedings are done.