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Jeb Bush Joins McCain on Tour of Basilica in Mexico City

Sen. John McCain, his wife Cindy McCain, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, listen as Monsignor Diego Monroy Ponce, left, discusses details from an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, July 3, 2008. (Associated Press)

By Juliet Eilperin
MEXICO CITY -- Paying homage to one of the holiest sites for Mexican Roman Catholics, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) visited the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe this morning along with his wife and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The president's younger brother, who has been friendly with McCain for several years and is often mentioned as a possible future presidential candidate, was in town on business.

"I think he's going to win," Bush said of McCain. "He just needs to be himself and not let Senator Obama redefine himself."

McCain zipped over to the Basilica, which lies north of Mexico City, in a 16-minute motorcade ride that traversed closed roads as angry drivers nearby expressed their discontent by honking. A monsignor met the presumptive nominee and took him to the altar, where the senator laid a wreath of white roses.

The wreath harkens back to a tradition in the legend of the Virgin of Guadalupe, in which an Indian peasant in the 1400s saw the Virgin Mary but his fellow villagers did not believe him. During his second religious vision, according to the legend, the Virgin Mary provided him with a bed of roses that were out of season to prove her existence, but it was only after his third vision, when he obtained a special garment, that he was able to convince others he had seen her.

After describing an altar painting to McCain the monsignor gave him a blessing, with one hand on the senator's forehead and another on his shoulder. During the blessing, Cindy McCain stood next to her husband with her head bowed and her eyes closed.

The Basilica was built in the 1970s after the original -- which took more than a century to construct and was completed in the early 1700s -- experienced foundation problems. The original still stands, and is now open to the public.

Bush and McCain did not speak to reporters during their tour, but at one point, when McCain was looking at the older section of the basilica, the former governor expressed confidence that the White House would stay in GOP hands.

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 3, 2008; 2:42 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , John McCain  
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