As uncertainty swirls around the fate of their first debate on Friday, presidential hopefuls Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama addressed former President Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative in New York Thursday, sounding similar themes on cooperating with international and environmental agencies and boosting the flailing economy.
McCain, who pledged Wednesday to suspend his campaign in order to focus on finding a solution to Congress’s proposed economic bailout, said the focus on energy efficiency is not to be ignored.
“We know that fossil fuel emissions, by retaining heat within the atmosphere, threaten disastrous changes in climate,” he said in his address. “No challenge of energy is to be taken lightly, and least of all the need to avoid the consequences of global warming.”
McCain added that “global warming presents a test of foresight, or political courage, and of the unselfish concern that one generation owes to the next.”
The appearance was McCain’s last before he headed to Washington to work on the proposed $700 billion federal financial bailout, which has faced skepticism in Congress over its broad scope.
Also Wednesday, McCain suggested delaying his first debate with Obama — scheduled for Friday in Oxford, Miss. — amid concerns over the financial maelstrom.
Obama, however, said the debate should go on, stating that the forum is “more important than ever” and that “it is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”
At a news conference Thursday, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said he expects the debate to go ahead, though he said he doesn’t have any inside information.
Both Obama and McCain will head to Washington later Thursday to meet with President Bush in a high-level bipartisan meeting on the economy to be held at the White House.
Obama addressed the Global Initiative via satellite after being introduced by former President Clinton. The Illinois senator opened by speaking about the urgency of the current economic crisis before addressing the need for global cooperation efforts in energy reform.
“The carbon emissions in Boston or Beijing don’t just pollute the immediate atmosphere — they imperil our planet,” Obama said.