Obama and McCain Hold Photo Op and Issue Joint Statement on Meeting
By Garance Franke-Ruta
President-elect Barack Obama put his campaign message of post-partisan unity into practice today, sitting down for a private meeting with former presidential rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in Chicago to discuss, in general terms, opportunities for bipartisan action on the nation's most pressing problems.
The meeting at the Presidential Transition Office on the 38th floor of the Kluczynski Federal Building in downtown Chicago kicked off with a conference-room photo op, to which a pool reporter had three minutes of access.
"We're going to have a good conversation about how we can do some work together to fix up the country, and also to offer thanks to Senator McCain for the outstanding service he's already rendered," Obama said, laying out the goal of the tete-a-tete.
Asked whether he would help the incoming Obama administration, McCain replied, "Obviously."
The pool reporter on the scene, Ken Bazinet of the New York Daily News, asked Obama a question on the auto industry bailout, but "was shouted down by the pool sherpas," as he described it. Obama addressed him with a smile, Bazinet reported, saying, "You're incorrigible."
Joining Obama and McCain at the meeting were Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who will be Obama's chief of staff in the White House.
After the meeting, the president-elect and McCain issued a joint statement emphasizing the need for unity and bipartisanship to address "critical challenges like solving our financial crisis, creating a new energy economy, and protecting our nation's security."
"At this defining moment in history, we believe that Americans of all parties want and need their leaders to come together and change the bad habits of Washington so that we can solve the common and urgent challenges of our time," they said.
"It is in this spirit that we had a productive conversation today about the need to launch a new era of reform where we take on government waste and bitter partisanship in Washington in order to restore trust in government, and bring back prosperity and opportunity for every hardworking American family," they continued.
Posted at 2:41 PM ET on Nov 17, 2008
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