The night before taking the oath of office, Barack Obama” href=”/themes/?Theme=Barack+Obama” >President-elect Barack Obama said he would make bipartisanship “a new way of doing business in this city” as he feted his Republican presidential rival, John McCain” href=”/themes/?Theme=John+McCain” >Sen. John McCain, former Bush administration Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The three dinners, held in separate locations across the city Monday night, were designed to underscore Mr. Obama’s pledge to run a different type of administration. Speaking at the first dinner with Mr. McCain at his side, Mr. Obama pointedly said that the executive branch will share powers with the rest of the government and that he expects to have a healthy debate with Mr. McCain on occasion.
“John is not known to bite his tongue, and if I’m screwing up, he will let me know, and that’s how it should be - because a presidency is just one branch of a broader government by and for the people,” Mr. Obama said.
An hour later, Mr. Obama, speaking in the grand confines of the National Building Museum, called Mr. Powell a hero, saying the former general’s work for leaders of both political parties showed that he has learned the “lesson of this nation’s greatness.”
“We rededicate ourselves to the work that starts tomorrow with a commitment to bridge our differences and serve the American people,” Mr. Obama said.
The dinners were meant to bring together elected Democrats and Republicans and Mr. Obama’s finance team. Spotted at the dinner with Mr. McCain was former Rep. Ray LaHood, a Republican from Illinois whom Mr. Obama has designated to be his transportation secretary and to make good on his pledge to have Republicans in his Cabinet.
At the night’s final dinner, for Mr. Biden at Union Station, Mr. Obama praised his No. 2 as a fighter and survivor who also was able to be gracious to political opponents. As evidence, Mr. Obama pointed to Mr. Biden’s praise of Mr. McCain and his eulogy at the funeral of former Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond.