- (Photo: Facebook/Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)
Famed evangelical preacher Billy Graham will be celebrating his 95th birthday in North Carolina next month, and his family has invited several well-known politicians and public figures to attend the celebration, including former President Bill Clinton, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and business magnate Donald Trump.
Graham's son Franklin told reporters this week that around 600 to 700 people have been invited to attend the Nov. 7 birthday bash in Asheville, North Carolina, near the town of Montreat, where the Grahams have their home.
The Grahams have previous ties to Palin, Clinton and Trump. In 2009, Palin traveled to Billy Graham's home in North Carolina to have dinner with the famed pastor. After the meeting, Graham released a statement saying it was an honor to meet the politician, adding that he was "impressed with her strong commitment to her faith, to family and love of country."
Former President Bill Clinton has also previously met with Graham, making an appearance in 2007 at the opening of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. Clinton was accompanied by fellow former presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter; Graham has played a role in American politics by serving as a spiritual advisor to several former presidents, becoming especially close with Richard Nixon and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Trump and the Graham family have also been connected throughout the years. Son, Franklin Graham, said in a previous interview on ABC's "This Week with Christiane Amanpour" that Trump could have perhaps been his "candidate of choice" for the 2012 presidential election.
"Donald Trump, when I first saw that he was getting in, I thought, well, this has got to be a joke," Graham told Amanpour. "But the more you listen to him, the more you say to yourself, you know, maybe this guy's right." Trump also quoted Billy Graham five months ago on his Twitter account when he wrote: "God never takes away something from your life without replacing it with something better."
Graham, who has suffered health problems in his older age, including Parkinson's Disease, will be in attendance at the Nov. 7 birthday celebration, but will not give a speech. At the event, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will release a new video featuring the elder Graham, entitled "My Hope," that will feature Graham's hopeful message to the nation.