Obama, McCain Meet While Bill Speaks About Hillary

The former rivals discuss a wide range of issues in a bipartisan setting.

ByABC News
November 17, 2008, 6:03 PM

Nov. 17, 2008— -- President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., may have been arguing about the economy just two weeks ago, but today the two met for the first time since the Al Smith Dinner for a productive conversation about the issue -- and others.

"We're just going to have a good conversation so we can work together to fix up the country and also to thank Senator McCain for his service to the country," the President-elect told reporters at the onset of the meeting.

Asked if he intended to work with Obama, McCain said, "obviously."

According to aides for both men, the Republican senator and the President-elect discussed earmarks and ethics reforms, climate change, immigration reform, and the possibility of closing down Guantanamo Bay. McCain raised the subject of Pentagon waste; Obama brought up corporate welfare.

They both agreed that with the severity of the crises facing the country, the nation's capital needs to usher in a new era of bipartisanism.

The meeting was "excellent," a source close to Obama told ABC News, with "great chemistry and agreement."

McCain later told a friend that Obama "couldn't have been nicer."

McCain was apparently pleased that the meeting was real and substantive, one source tells ABC News, rather than just the traditional post-election photo op, since he kept telling Obama how much he appreciated the meeting.

The two later released 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 so that we can solve the common and urgent challenges of our time. 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."

Obama's soon-to-be White House chief of staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., was present at the meeting, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The two -- who successfully negotiated the presidential debates -- are said to have an excellent working relationship and have each other's cell phone numbers on speed dial.