Tonight both John McCain and Barack Obama participated in a presidential forum aimed at discussing national service on the nation’s 7th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The forum was sponsored by an organization called ServiceNation and was held at Columbia University in New York City.
Here, in the order in which they were questioned, are the entire videos from both McCain and Obama.
McCain went first, here is most of the his session in several parts from YouTube:
Next, Obama took a similar line of questioning. Here is most of his session also in several parts from YouTube:
Report on both appearances from CNN:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama spoke about the importance of national service during a Thursday forum sponsored by TIME at Columbia University in New York.
The presidential candidates took the stage separately, a coin toss determining who took questions first from moderators TIME Managing Editor Rick Stengel and PBS’s Judy Woodruff.
Woodruff first asked McCain why it seems the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, are “fading” in the minds of many Americans.
“We needed at that time [September 11, 2001] to take advantage of the unity in the United States of America,” he said. “We weren’t Republicans on September 11. We weren’t Democrats. We were Americans.”
McCain also said he suspects the American people feel uninspired by leaders in Washington and repeated the 2008 campaign trail mantra that they crave change in federal government. Americans more than ever appreciate that we live in a global political environment where isolationist tendencies no longer apply, he said.
“They understand the challenges we have in this world,” he said, pointing to Russia’s recent invasion of Georgia, and “problems growing larger” in Afghanistan. “How is it that we can inspire people? … We have to reform government. We have to reform the way we’re doing business.”
McCain was asked what role the federal government should play in national service — private, public and military.
He praised the Peacecorps and AmeriCorps, saying they and similar organizations don’t receive “sufficient recognition” from Washington. But McCain was careful to say government should limit its involvement in largely private volunteer organizations.
“I’d be glad to spend money but I don’t think that should be the first priority …”
Government has a “distinct” role but he said he “wants to be careful about expanding it.”
The GOP candidate also fielded a question about his running mate Gov. Sarah Palin’s dismissive comments about Obama’s community service in Illinois.
“Look, this is a tough business,” McCain said, saying Sen. Obama set the tone of the race when he turned down McCain’s offer to participate together in town hall meetings across the United States.
“Of course I respect community organizers who serve their community,” McCain said, calling Obama’s community organizing in inner-city Chicago “outstanding.”
“I praise anyone who serves this nation in that capacity.”
Obama said his views don’t really differ from McCain’s on national service.
“America is the greatest country on earth but it didn’t just happen on its own,” said Obama, saying later as McCain said, that a person’s income doesn’t necessarily indicate whether they will have the time or the inclination to volunteer. “What has built this country is people who participate in public service that extend beyond our immediate self interest.”
Obama said that on Friday he will announce a citizenship volunteer program to help young people of modest means to get involved in their community as he did years ago.
“The fact is we have to have to have government,” Obama said. “When a hurricane strikes as it did with Katrina, we have to have a FEMA that works which means we should be encouraging young people to get involved as civil servants” capable of doing the job well.
“That doesn’t crowd out the Red Cross or thousands of church groups that went down there [to New Orleans],” he continued. “The Peacecorps does not crowd out need for [other] service overseas.”
The forum is part of a two-day summit meant to promote national service. Nearly 500 leaders from business, foundations, universities and politics are meeting to “celebrate the power and potential of citizen service” and lay out a plan to address “America’s greatest social challenges through expanded opportunities for volunteer and national service,” according to the organizers’ Web site.
Pretty mild evening for the candidates, I didn’t see too much of it but it doesn’t sound like either one really stood out. Clearly this forum probably favors Obama more as the Rick Warren Saddleback Civil Forum favored McCain more.
Working on the full complete video which should be up soon…