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Inside Politics

100,000 file past Reagan's casket

Kerry pays his respects

Sen. John Kerry pays his respects to former President Ronald Reagan at his presidential library Tuesday.
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Photographer Peter Souza recorded the Reagans in the White House.

CNN's Joe Johns on funeral security measures.

CNN's Chris Lawrence on crowds filing past the casket.
Interactive: The funeral services

• Remembrance:  Your comments
• Interactive: Reagan facts
• On the scene: Turnout touches Reagan family

Today: The Reagan Library is open for the public to pay respects, the casket on view

Wednesday: The casket is moved from the library at 8 a.m. PT (11 a.m. ET) to Naval Base Ventura County for transport to Washington; at 6 p.m. ET, a procession moves the body to the Capitol Rotunda, where it will lie in state for visitation overnight

Thursday: The body lies in state at the Capitol for visitation all day

Friday: The body is moved to Washington National Cathedral for a state funeral service, then is flown back to California for a 6:15 p.m. PT (9:15 p.m. ET) private funeral, followed by burial at the Reagan Library
Who was the greatest president?
F.D. Roosevelt
Ronald Wilson Reagan

SIMI VALLEY, California (CNN) -- After thousands in California pay their last respects to the nation's 40th president, Ronald Reagan's casket will be flown to Washington on Wednesday, to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda until a state funeral on Friday.

More than 100,000 people, including Democratic presidential contender John Kerry, visited the flag-draped casket Tuesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

An official at the former president's office in Los Angeles said Nancy Reagan had been watching coverage of the crowds at the library.

"It is unbelievable what I am seeing on TV," the official quoted the former first lady as saying. "The outpouring of love for my husband is incredible." (Gallery: Reagan lying in repose)

The library extended its viewing hours until 10 p.m. Tuesday (1 a.m. Wednesday ET) to accommodate the crowd, some of whom were visibly emotional.

"It chokes you up," one woman said after viewing the casket, which is guarded by a member of the armed forces posted at each corner.

"I wouldn't have probably done it for ... too many others. But he was special. He was somebody that really meant a lot to me."

Deb Powell drove overnight from Phoenix, Arizona, to bring her children to the viewing.

"We wanted them to be a part of history, and they realize that very few people have gotten to come and be here," Powell said. "So we're thankful to be here." (Your thoughts)

Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, was escorted through a side entrance into the room where Reagan's casket lay and stood briefly before the casket before leaving Tuesday afternoon.

Kerry, D-Massachusetts, suspended "overtly political" events this week in observance of Reagan's death. Aides said he was in California for family and personal reasons.

Reagan died at age 93 Saturday at his home in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.

He had battled Alzheimer's disease for a decade. (Special Report: Ronald Reagan)

Observances of Reagan's death culminate Friday in a private family funeral and burial outside the Spanish mission-style presidential library building, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

Friday has been designated a national day of mourning.

Eulogists announced

In Washington, the sound of cannon fire echoed through the streets Tuesday as Army units practiced for the ceremonies. The Air Force scheduled a Tuesday evening rehearsal for a planned fly-over on Wednesday's ceremonies.

Former President Gerald Ford, the nation's 38th president who turns 91 next month, said he and his wife will attend Reagan's funeral.

Ford on Tuesday remembered Reagan as a "first-class president" who gave the country a sense of optimism at a time when it needed it most. Most of all, he said, Reagan was a "firm believer in the strength of the United States" who played an instrumental role in ending the Cold War.

"As historians thumb through the pages of the Reagan presidency, they will find a president who was strong at home and effective abroad," Ford said. "I think he gave to this country the kind of leadership we needed at home, but also the kind of leadership in beating communism worldwide."

Tributes to Reagan continued in Congress as well. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said current leaders "would do well to emulate President Reagan's unfailing qualities of dignity and courtesy" as well as his "sense of confidence and optimism."

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle praised Reagan's ability to seek compromise with Democrats, who controlled the House of Representatives throughout his two terms and the Senate for his last two years in office.

"I would hope that we could revive that civility and that political partnership and that comity and politics of common ground that President Reagan and Tip O'Neill and others so powerfully demonstrated on so many occasions during the '80s," he said.

Some Republican lawmakers have proposed putting Reagan's likeness on U.S. currency as a permanent memorial. (Full story)

Former President George H.W. Bush, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney are scheduled to join President Bush in eulogizing Ronald Reagan at his state funeral service Friday, Reagan's office said.

The elder Bush was Reagan's vice president during his tenure in the White House from 1981-1989.

Baroness Thatcher was a close ally of Reagan who shared many of his conservative views and staunch opposition to communism.

Mulroney was also a conservative ally who led Canada during much of the Reagan era.

Presiding over the service at the National Cathedral will be former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri, who is an ordained Episcopal priest.

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the Rabbi Harold Kusher will give readings, while Irish tenor Ronan Tynan will sing.

O'Connor was appointed to the Supreme Court by Reagan, becoming the first woman ever to serve on the high court.

A federal official told CNN about 20 current heads of state are expected to attend the service.

Other international dignitaries expected to attend include former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. (Gorbachev praises a 'great president')

When the body lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda, dignitaries scheduled to participate include Vice President Dick Cheney, who is also president of the Senate; House Speaker Dennis Hastert; and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the president pro tempore of the Senate. (Plans for official ceremonies)

The Department of Homeland Security has designated all the activities in California and Washington related to Reagan's memorial a special security event, which puts the Secret Service in charge of overseeing precautions.

Measures deployed at other such events have included sharpshooters, bomb-sniffing dogs and undercover police roaming the crowds. (Security high for Reagan funeral)

CNN's David Mattingly, John King and Chris Lawrence contributed to this report.

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