"Sometimes the most radical thing is to be confronted with our own standards — to be asked simply that we live up to the principles we profess," McCain said in an event sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "Even in this most idealistic of nations, we do not always take kindly to being reminded of what more we can do, or how much better we can be, or who else can be included in the promise of America."
McCain talked about King's words that "someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil" and that the greatest way to do that is through love.
"Dr. King and his comrades began to break that chain with their campaign of peaceful protest,'" McCain said, adding that King still was called "an agitator, a trouble-maker, a malcontent, and a disturber of the peace," terms that apply to men and women today in Darfur, Zimbabwe, Burma, Tibet, Iran and other lands "who dare to disturb the peace of tyrants."
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a very emotional speech in Memphis, said in many ways it "feels like we've tumbled right down that mountaintop" that King referred to in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in Memphis before he was shot.
"Isn't it time we started seeing ourselves as Dr. King saw us?" Clinton asked — coming together to find solutions of what Americans can and should be and "finally addressing the scourge of poverty" that stalks so many.
Clinton vowed to appoint a cabinet-level person to be solely devoted to "ending poverty as we know it in America."
She said the position would focus the attention of the nation on the issue, and that that person would be asked by the president every day "What have you done to end poverty in America?"
Clinton also said to further King's ideals she would appoint Supreme Court justices that uphold the Brown v. Board of Education ruling ending racial segregation in public schools; provide affordable health care for every American; and end the war in Iraq "that has claimed too many of our precious sons and daughters."
Contributing: Associated Press