[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/17/art.obamaandmccain.jpg caption="Barack Obama and John McCain at the end of their final presidential debate."]
Less than two weeks ago, on election night, John McCain pledged to do "all in my power to help [Barack Obama] lead us through the many challenges we face." On Monday, McCain will travel to Chicago to discuss ways he can fulfill that promise in a private meeting with the President-elect.
There were some who doubted the sincerity of McCain's pledge, coming so soon after the end of a campaign that featured a series of personal attacks on Obama. But it pays to remember that the self-styled maverick was never very comfortable as the standard bearer of a party that he had opposed so many times on so many issues. And the party long felt the same way.
Last Friday brought notice that the relationship between the two would soon be returning to form when South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint became the first high-profile Republican to lay the blame for McCain's loss on McCain himself. "We have to be honest, and there's a lot of blame to go around," DeMint told a GOP gathering in Myrtle Beach, S.C. "But I have to mention George Bush, and I have to mention Ted Stevens, and I'm afraid I even have to mention John McCain." DeMint then offered a list of McCain's anti-conservative apostasies, including his support for campaign finance reform, immigration reform and legislation aimed at combating global warming.
The items on DeMint's list of lament read like talking points to jump-start Monday afternoon's conversation in Chicago between McCain and Obama. According to an Obama aide, the President-elect views McCain as a potential ally on the kind of reform issues for which the two men share broad agreement. "There are areas of general agreement and beliefs — on immigration, earmark reform, energy, climate change, government reform, spending reform," says the aide. "Where there's agreement on both sides, they want to figure out ways they can work together."
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