Carson, Bush, O'Malley to see Pope Francis

Story highlights

  • Ben Carson will see the Pontiff on Thursday when the pontiff addresses a joint session of Congress as the guest of South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford
  • Martin O'Malley, Jeb Bush and Gabrielle Giffords are attending Wednesday's mass

(CNN)Several 2016 candidates are attempting to sneak peeks of Pope Francis during his first-ever visit to Washington.

Ben Carson will see the pontiff on Thursday when Pope Francis addresses a joint session of Congress as the guest of South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, the congressman's office confirmed.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democratic presidential candidate, is attending Pope Francis' canonization mass Wednesday afternoon at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, an O'Malley spokeswoman said. He rode to the mass with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the spokeswoman added.
    Jeb Bush, who was raised in the Episcopal church before converting to Catholicism in 1996, also attended the mass. He tweeted a photo of him and his wife, Columba, attending the service, saying, ".@ColumbaBush and I are incredibly blessed to celebrate Mass with @Pontifex and so many fellow Americans today."
    And Gabby Giffords, the former congresswoman who was wounded in the 2011 Tucson shooting, also attended, a spokesman said.
    Carson, a Seventh Day Adventist, said despite his schedule, hearing the pope is a high priority.
    "It's always a historic occasion when the Pontiff comes to America. And I hope we're very welcoming and we'd love to hear what he has to say," Carson said Wednesday in Jackson, Michigan. "I feel a need to be everywhere. And that happened to be on the top of the list tomorrow."
    Sanford has not formerly endorsed a candidate for president. He told CNN two weeks ago at a Marco Rubio event in North Charleston that "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Right now I'm listening and learning."
    Sanford, who was formerly governor of the first-in-the-South primary state, has been active in the 2016 presidential bidding process in his home state. He has attended events in his district, which includes parts of Charleston, for Rubio, John Kasich, and former presidential hopeful Rick Perry. He introduced Rand Paul on stage during a Concerned Veterans for America town hall.
    He was complimentary of Rubio when he visited, adding, "He's an incredibly skillful communicator and I think that matters in expressing and advancing public policy."
    He has not been shying away from the media, either, regularly taking questions from reporters at events, most recently speaking to the press during current Gov. Nikki Haley's forum on Friday that she hosted with Heritage Action Forum. Carson was a guest speaker at the event.
    The pope will address members of Congress at 10 a.m.