Less than two weeks after Election Day, President-elect Barack Obama Monday welcomed the man he defeated, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to a meeting at his transition headquarters in downtown Chicago. It was the first time the two had spoken since McCain phoned Obama to concede.
"Just going to have a good conversation about how we can work together to fix up the country and also to offer thanks to Sen. McCain for the outstanding service he’s already rendered," Obama told reporters at the outset of the meeting, which clocked in at under an hour.
Asked during the photo op if he was now going to help the man he lost to, the Arizona Republican replied, "Obviously."
A source close to Obama said the meeting was "excellent" with "great chemistry and agreement" between the two men. For his part, a source close to McCain said the meeting went very well, with another McCain source saying the Republican was pleased that the meeting was so substantive and Obama respectful.
Afterwards, the two lawmakers released a joint statement calling the exchange "a productive conversation".
“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 in the statement. "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."
Joining the lawmakers at today’s meeting were Obama’s incoming White House Chief of Staff Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., and McCain’s good friend and colleague, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC. The two had worked well together negotiating the presidential debates, and helped arranged today’s conference after Obama spoke with Graham after the election.
After Obama made his brief comment prior to the meeting, reporters were then escorted out of the room, but not before firing off numerous questions as they left, prompting Obama to say with a smile, "You’re incorrigible".
- Jake Tapper and Matt Jaffe