Bill Clinton opened his Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York on Thursday with high praise for Republican presidential nominee John McCain as well as his rival Barack Obama.
Introducing McCain at the gathering, Clinton pointed out that his wife Hillary and McCain took a congressional delegation on a climate change fact-finding mission to Alaska.
“I want to say one thing in particular about John McCain in bringing him out here,” Clinton said.
“When most people in his party were thinking that global warming was overstated … he decided to look into it.
“He and the junior senator from New York, with whom I have a passing acquaintance, took two astonishing trips.”
Clinton directed a comment to GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who was in attendance, saying that one trip was to “your state, to Point Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost community in the United States, where the Eskimos told them they thought their way of life was coming to an end because of changes in the climate.”
Clinton stressed that McCain’s work on global warming was not to score political points. “He just wanted to know and they dragged along some very skeptical Republican senators who now are prepared to vote for some kind of bipartisan legislation, which will put America in a position to be a part of what is coming up by 2010, which is figuring out where we go next in the struggle against climate change.
“John McCain wants to know and I am profoundly grateful to him [for] coming here today.”
McCain took the podium next and the two got a laugh when Clinton accidentally took McCain’s speech when he picked up his own, Fox News reported. McCain quipped, “What kind of a host is that?”
McCain returned the former President’s praise and said: “This man’s drive and determination and compassion for those in need are still a force for good in the world, and I am proud to call him a friend.”
Barack Obama also addressed the Clinton Global Initiative via satellite from Florida. Before he spoke, Clinton praised him for rearranging his schedule to be able to speak to the gathering.
Clinton disclosed that Obama contacted both him and his wife for advice on the current crisis. “He said this: ‘Just tell me what you think [we] ought to do and do not waste any breath talking about what is - or is not - politically salable. Let’s figure out what the right thing to do is and then we’ll figure out how to sell it.’”
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