Nov. 17, 2008 -- President-elect Obama sat down today for a "productive conversation" with Sen. John McCain, the man he defeated in a long political brawl to win the White House.
The Arizona senator, who graciously conceded defeat on election night, traveled to Obama's Chicago transition headquarters today, the latest former opponent to make the trip to Chicago.
The one-time rivals were joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, whom Obama has named to be his White House chief of staff.
During a brief moment when the men allowed the press into the private meeting for photographs, Obama said he and McCain intended to work together to "fix up the country."
The president-elect also said he wanted to "offer thanks to Sen. McCain for the outstanding service he's already rendered."
The two men sat in chairs next to each other with U.S. flags behind them, and McCain remained quiet except when he was asked whether he planned to help the Obama administration. "Obviously," McCain said.
They later issued a joint statement saying, "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."
The statement said they had a "productive conversation" about controlling government waste and putting an end to "bitter partisanship" in Washington.
"We hope to work together in the days and months ahead," the joint statement said.
Last week Sen. Hillary Clinton, who waged a long and losing battle against Obama for the Democratic nomination, flew to a Chicago meeting with Obama. Clinton is under consideration to be Obama's secretary of state.
One of the reported sticking points for Clinton is the concern that her husband's globe-trotting and international dealings could complicate her potential role as the nation's chief diplomat.
Bill Clinton Talks About His Wife's Job Prospect
Bill Clinton was in Kuwait today for a symposium sponsored by the National Bank of Kuwait, and he spoke about the possibility of his wife joining the Obama administration.
"If he [Obama] decided to ask her and they did it together, I think she'll be really great as a secretary of state. Whatever happens or doesn't happen is between Obama and her," Bill Clinton said, according to Bloomberg News.
The former president said both he and Hillary Clinton worked hard for Obama's election, "but she didn't do what she did with the hope or expectation of getting any kind of job offer, much less having this discussed."
Obama said that he has been studying the writings and history of Abraham Lincoln who packed his Cabinet with political rivals.
"I tell you what, I find him a very wise man," Obama told "60 Minutes."
He also said there will be at least one Republican in his Cabinet.
Obama and the future first lady Michelle Obama talked about their looming life in the bubble of the White House with CBS' "60 Minutes" over the weekend. They looked back at where they came from, including such highlights as Obama's old Chicago bachelor pad near Harold's Chicken Shack.
"That was a dump," Michelle Obama recalled.
And his car where the air-conditioning was a hole in the floor where the rust had eaten through.
"That was my side," said Michelle." "I would look and see the ground going past. And I still married him."
When Obama tried to muse about what he will miss now that he will be surrounded by the Secret Service and a large service staff, he spoke about being able to take a walk or wash the dishes, which the president-elect said he found "soothing."
"You?" his wife interjected. "Since when was it ever soothing for you to wash the dishes?"
Obama will be needing some soothing because crises are brewing while Obama is still formulating his Cabinet, and at least one may erupt in the days before he takes office.
Congress will take up a bill this week to funnel tens of billions of dollars to General Motors to prevent it from a financial collapse that could take down related companies, along with hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs.
The bill is opposed by the Bush administration as well as many Republicans in Congress. It is also not certain whether GM can survive long enough to get help from an Obama administration.
"Let's see how this thing plays itself out," Obama told "60 Minutes." "For the auto industry to completely collapse would be a disaster in this kind of environment, not just for individual families, but the repercussions across the economy would be dire."
He suggested that the billions should be spent despite the effect it would have on the country's deficit.
"We shouldn't worry about the deficit next year or even the year after. That short term, the most important thing is that we avoid a deepening recession," Obama said.
The president-elect said he has two fiscal priorities, restore confidence in the economy and help homeowners threatened with foreclosure to stay in their homes.
Obama Vows to Close Gitmo
Restoring confidence involves new regulations for big business, Obama said, to "restore a sense of balance."
"There's no doubt that we have not been able yet to reset the confidence in the financial markets and in the consumer markets and among businesses that allow the economy to move forward in a strong way," Obama said. "And my job as president is going to be to make sure that we restore that confidence."
Also pressing is the need to halt the cascading avalanche of foreclosures.
"We've got to set up a negotiation between banks and borrowers, so that people can stay in their homes," Obama said. "That is going to have an impact on the economy as a whole. And, you know, one thing I'm determined is that if we don't have a clear, focused program for homeowners by the time I take office, we will after I take office."
In addition, the president-elect said he would carry out his promise to close the prison for terrorists in Guantanamo Bay and issue an order that would end any grounds for torture.
"I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that," he told CBS. "I have said repeatedly that America doesn't torture. And I'm going to make sure that we don't torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America's moral stature in the world."
Over the weekend, Obama also released a letter to his former Illinois constituents on his resignation from the Senate.
In the letter, Obama , another former Illinois senator on his way to the White House, quoted Lincoln:
"To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything," Obama wrote. "Today, I feel the same, and like Lincoln, I ask for your support, your prayers and for us to 'confidently hope that all will yet be well.'"