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McCain, Obama offer each other jobs

The bitter rivals for the November 4 election used a televised forum on public service to half-jokingly promise each other a cabinet post in charge of community service. Read on...

world Updated: Sep 12, 2008 10:22 IST

Republican White House candidate John McCain and his Democratic rival Barack Obama wrapped up a one-day truce Thursday by offering each other jobs -- only not the presidency.

The bitter rivals for the November 4 election used a televised forum on public service to half-jokingly promise each other a cabinet post in charge of community service.

Asked if this was a possibility, McCain said: "Yes."

He praised Obama's early career as a community activist in Chicago as "outstanding," but refused to disavow jibes made by his vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and other top figures at the recent Republican convention.

"Of course I respect community organizers. Of course I respect people who serve their community," McCain said during the event at New York's Columbia University, held on the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Following a joint appearance at Manhattan's Ground Zero, where the felled World Trade Center once stood, the two senators shook hands and exchanged pleasantries as they met on the stage at Columbia.

Obama, who took questions after the Republican had left, responded by praising McCain's "legendary" service during a lifetime in the military and politics.

Asked if he too would give McCain a cabinet post, Obama quipped: "If this is the deal he wants to make right now, I am committed to appointing him to my cabinet of national service."

And Obama, responding to McCain's job offer if the Republican should win the election, said: "We've got a little work to do before we get to that point."

Obama, who got a rapturous reception at his alma mater of Columbia, said he was surprised at the Republican convention onslaught "belittling" his work in his early 20s organizing on behalf of poor and jobless people in Chicago.

He said "no insult to the president of this fine institution (Columbia), but it was the best education I ever had because it taught me that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they're given a chance and when they're brought together."

Obama and McCain suspended partisan attacks to mark the 9/11 anniversary. They laid roses at Ground Zero and met with emergency workers at the site where airliners hijacked by Al-Qaeda extremists demolished the Twin Towers.