The day before he was inaugurated as 44th President of the United States, he held dinners for two war criminals:
Jan. 19, 2009
The New York Times
In Bipartisan Appeal, Obama Praises McCain and Powell
By Katharine Q. Seelye
In a major bipartisan appeal on the eve of his inauguration, Barack Obama held dinners Monday evening for Republicans Colin Powell and John McCain, praising both to the skies and perhaps making a down payment on future political success.
In an unusual effort to create political opportunity out of what is usually a dead period in the days leading up to an inauguration, Mr. Obama reached across the aisle and across the battle lines of the last election, calling his former opponent a man who sought common ground and attaching superlatives to Mr. Powell.
He did not mention that Mr. McCain evinced little of his bipartisan side during the presidential campaign.
“There are few Americans who understand this need for common purpose and common effort better than John McCain,” Mr. Obama said at the dinner he held for Mr. McCain at the Washington Hilton. “It is what he has strived for and achieved throughout his life. It is built into the very content of his character.”
Mr. Obama then hurried by motorcade to the National Building Museum to honor Mr. Powell, who backed Mr. Obama in October in one of the most effusive, full-throated endorsements he received from a member of the opposing party.
“It’s easy to slip into superlatives when you talk about Colin Powell,” Mr. Obama said, going on to speak of Mr. Powell’s “quiet, remarkably consistent loyalty to a set of principles: truth, loyalty and determination.” He added: “The lesson he’s learned from his own rise is not his own greatness but his nation’s greatness.” The speech was over in seven minutes.
Mr. Obama also held a third dinner Monday night, for his vice presidential running mate, Joseph R. Biden Jr. But it was the fetes for Republicans that set Washington abuzz.
At the McCain dinner, Mr. Obama praised his former opponent, a Republican senator from Arizona, for working with Democrats on issues like campaign finance and immigration, which Mr. Obama said Mr. McCain did for “the good of his country.”
Mr. McCain’s motivation, Mr. Obama said, was “a pure and deeply felt love of his country that comes from the painful knowledge of what life is like without it.”
Mr. McCain was introduced at the dinner by a fellow Republican, his close friend and wingman during the campaign, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. And his other wingman, Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut who earned much enmity from Democrats by appearing at the Republican convention, also attended.
Not invited was Mr. McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.