By Abdon Pallasch, Sun-Times Political Writer and
Lynn Sweet, Sun-Times Washington Bureau chief
CHICAGO--President-elect Barack Obama, inspired by Abraham Lincoln as he prepares for his presidency, is gathering his own team of rivals -- huddling with Sen. John McCain in Chicago on Monday while behind the scenes considering whether Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will fit into his administration as secretary of state.
After meeting for about an hour at Obama's transition offices on the 38th floor of the Kluczynski Federal Building, McCain and Obama issued a statement outlining the areas where they will work together: government waste, the financial crisis, energy and national security.
Notable for not being on the list: the contentious issue of immigration, on which McCain and Obama have found more agreement than McCain has with his fellow Republicans.
"At this defining moment in history, we believe that Americans of all parties want and need their leaders to come together and change the bad habits of Washington so that we can solve the common and urgent challenges of our time," the statement said.
McCain is not going to be offered a Cabinet spot, a source close to the Obama transition said.
Rather, the role for McCain that seems to be evolving is one where he either is tapped by Obama for special envoy assignments or leads a rump group of GOP senators who form situational alliances with Obama on issues where they have common ground.
Gone was the scorched rhetoric of the presidential campaign, where McCain called Obama "redistributionist-in-chief" and Obama accused McCain of not wanting to do anything different from President Bush.
Noting the presence of Chicago reporters, Obama told McCain before their meeting, "The national press is tame compared to the Chicago press," and then made some small talk about the Bears.
Asked by WLS-Channel 7 political reporter Andy Shaw what the goal of the meeting was, Obama said, "We're going to have a good conversation about how we can do some work together to fix up the country," he said. "And also to offer thanks to Senator McCain for the outstanding service he's already rendered."
McCain, asked if he wanted to help an Obama administration, said "obviously."
Obama is preparing for office by reading Lincoln, who included political opponents in his Cabinet. Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin described Lincoln's choices in her 2005 book Team of Rivals.
Meanwhile, the Obama team continues to evaluate Clinton for secretary of state, with concerns centering on how to deal with former President Clinton's foundation and globe-trotting agenda,
Pallasch reported from Chicago; Sweet from Washington.