From NBC's Cherelle Kantey
Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff to President-elect Obama, tipped his hat to Sen. John McCain yesterday, saying the Obama administration plans to work in a bipartisan fashion to address the challenges of the new presidency.
At a discussion for the Wall Street Journal's CEOs in Washington, D.C., event he spoke about the meeting the president-elect held with McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham, saying the nation will enter an "era of reform."
"We didn't just do not have the meeting with Sen. McCain and Sen. [Graham], … just for optics, we covered very serious issues," Emanuel said.
He spoke about having a diplomatic approach to solving the economic crisis, while also ducking questions about Obama's cabinet selection. When asked about the suggestion of Sen. Hillary Clinton being chosen for Secretary of State, he responded, "Great question."
He refused to answer an audience member about who Obama might choose for Treasury Secretary, saying, "I can't do these, guys; you know that."
"I am not here to make news," Emanuel said jokingly. "If you want to have a bathroom break, go ahead and do it right now."
Emanuel mentioned the need for Congress to pass an "immediate economic stimulus," saying that reaching an agreement is key. He emphasized the opportunity for leadership provided by the economic climate, opening the door for more bipartisan talks.
"And this crisis provides the opportunity, for us, as I would say, the opportunity to do things that you could not do before," Emanuel said. "The good news … is the problems are big enough that they lend themselves ideas from both parties for the solution."
Never straying off-message, Emanuel stuck to the talking points about government reform and working with the Republicans in Congress to reach an agreement on how to fix the economy. He discussed embracing Sen. McCain's ideas on cutting spending and Graham's suggestions on defense procurement.
"That's what we mean by the era of reform," Emanuel said. "This is an opportunity to do things in a bipartisan fashion, because the American people in two successive elections have voted for change. And change can not die on the doorsteps of Washington."