Obama honours McCain at dinner

Below is the pool report:

At 6:12 p.m., after a long pool hold outside the Blair House, the motorcade headed out around Lafayette Square for the short drive to the Washington Hilton. Cheering crowds lined H Street, and clusters gathered throughout the route up Pennsylvania Avenue, 22nd Street and Florida Avenue.

The pool was then ushered into a holding room, perhaps because we were all distinctly underdressed for the Black Tie dinner sponsored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee honoring Sen. John McCain, the PEOTUS’s vanquished election rival.

A PEOTUS speech once scheduled for 6:20 began considerably late. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick introduced Mr. Obama, but first, he extolled Mr. McCain as a statesman, schooled in the art of bipartisanship – not a phrase oft heard on the campaign trail.

PEOTUS, wearing a black tuxedo with long black tie, took the stage at 6:48, to “say a few words about an American hero.”

He joked that Mr. McCain, under the rules of the evening, would get a rebuttal.

“We are glad that the days of rebuttals and campaigning are for now behind us,” he said, adding the two had been “fierce competitors”.

But, he added, “Each of us has the responsibility to usher in a new season of cooperation,” once the election season has passed.

After talking up Sen. McCain’s accomplishments and efforts on campaign finance reform, immigration, and the Patients’ Bill of Rights, he said Mr. McCain was motivated by “a pure and deeply felt love of this country that comes from the painful knowledge of what can be life without it.”

He invited McCain onto the stage, saying “Thank you, John, for your service to America.”

McCain joined him in a black tuxedo and traditional bow tie, smiling with something of his trademark grimace.

“John is not known to bite his tongue,” PEOTUS concluded, “and If I’m screwing up, he’s going to let me know. And that’s how it should be because a presidency is just one branch of a broader government by and for the people.”

At 7 p.m., PEOTUS and the pool hustled out to the next event, a dinner at the National Building Museum honoring retired Gen. Colin Powell.