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Obama praises McCain

world Updated: Jan 20, 2009 10:51 IST

President-elect Barack Obama has showered praise on his Republican rival Senator John McCain, describing him as "a hero of bipartisan politics and a courageous public servant."

Obama held a special black-tie dinner for the 72-year old McCain in Washington Monday night.

"I could stand here and recite the long list of John's bipartisan accomplishments," Obama said and listed out: "Campaign finance reform. Immigration. The Patients' Bill of Rights. All those times he has crossed the aisle and risked the ire of his party for the good of his country."

"And yet, what makes John such a rare and courageous public servant is not the accomplishments themselves, but the true motivation behind them," the President-elect said.

Obama said there are few Americans who understand this need for common purpose and common effort better than John McCain. "It is what he has strived for and achieved throughout his life. It is built into the very content of his character," he said.

Towards the end of his speech, Obama urged people to follow McCain approach of bipartisan leadership.

"I'd like to close by asking all of you to join us in making this bipartisan dinner not just an inaugural tradition, but a new way of doing the people's business in this city," he said.