Obama endorses McCain?

After a bipartisan White House meeting on immigration, the president says of his former rival, "I stand with him."

By Mike Madden

Published June 25, 2009 8:26PM (EDT)

WASHINGTON -- Might John McCain wind up running political ads featuring President Obama sometime next year?

The 2008 presidential rivals got together at the White House today for a bipartisan, bicameral meeting about immigration reform, which Obama says he's hoping Congress will take up again before the year ends. McCain, an Arizona Republican whose bid for the GOP's presidential nomination was nearly derailed in 2007 because of his support for reforming immigration laws, sat next to Obama during the meeting.

Once it ended, White House officials escorted reporters in for brief remarks by Obama. The president singled out McCain for some praise. "I want to specially commend John McCain, who is with me here today," Obama said."He has already paid a significant political cost for doing the right thing. I stand with him."

Footage of that line could make for quite an ad, in rapidly blue-tilting Arizona, where McCain says he's seeking reelection to a fifth Senate term next year. Had McCain not been the GOP nominee last year, Obama might well have won the state. Of course, reaching out to his defeated rival has political benefits for the president, as well, as it burnishes his bipartisan credentials.

Obama and McCain actually fought pretty hard over immigration last year, though they both generally agree on the broad framework of what types of reform are needed -- a temporary work visa for foreigners to come to the U.S. legally, some kind of legal status for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants already here and a massive crackdown on any employers who continue to hire workers without the proper authorizations once the reforms go through. Late in the campaign, Obama ran a Spanish-language ad accusing McCain of lying about his support for immigration reform and tying him to Rush Limbaugh and other xenophobic conservatives. While McCain had, at that point, been trying to distance himself from his earlier strong support for reforms, McCain aides bristled at the attack.

Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

MORE FROM Mike Madden

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2010 Elections Barack Obama War Room