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McCain vows to have Democrats in Cabinet

  • Story Highlights
  • John McCain says he would ask some Cabinet members to work for $1/year
  • Obama camp raised questions about McCain's respect for community-level work
  • McCain: Palin's controversial community service remarks were response to criticism
  • Sunday marked McCain's 65th appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation"

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From Josh Levs
CNN
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(CNN) -- Promising a "very bipartisan approach" to how he'll run his administration, Sen. John McCain said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he would appoint Democrats to his Cabinet.

Sen. John McCain says he would put the "best" and "smartest people in America" in his Cabinet.

Sen. John McCain says he would put the "best" and "smartest people in America" in his Cabinet.

Speaking to CBS' "Face the Nation," the Republican presidential nominee vowed that he won't just have a single token Democrat in his Cabinet.

"It's going to be the best people in America, the smartest people in America," McCain said. "So many of these problems we face -- for example, energy independence -- what's partisan about that?"

He said he'll also ask some members of his Cabinet "to work for a dollar a year. They've made enough money. But I'll also ask people who have struggled out there in the trenches to help people, to volunteer in their communities, who understand these problems at that level, which obviously is lost on a lot of -- a lot -- a big segment of Washington."

The Obama campaign has raised questions about McCain's respect for community-level work since last week's Republican National Convention when McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, contrasted her experience to that of Barack Obama by saying, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities."

Palin preceded that by saying she was rejecting criticism of her background, saying, "Since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involved."

Obama regularly cites his work as a "community organizer" in his campaign speeches.

McCain, in the CBS interview, said, "I admire and respect all public service," and that Palin shares those sentiments. He said Palin's remarks were a "reaction to the denigration of her role as mayor" of the small town of Wasilla, Alaska.

McCain added that Obama's work as a community organizer is "very honorable."

Rejecting critics who say Palin is not ready to lead, McCain called her a successful reformer who has taken on those standing in the way of change, including within her own party.

"She did the things that Americans want most. So in all due respect to any of the critics, what we want is the change in Washington. Who better in the political landscape could do that than Gov. Sarah Palin, whose whole life has been engaged in that -- taking them on and winning?"

McCain even contrasted her to himself. "I've taken them on and won less than she has," he said.

With Palin on the campaign trail, "The electricity has been incredible," he said.

He added, "I'm sure that Gov. Palin has failings. And I'm sure she's made mistakes, because she's had a long career, from city council to mayor to governor. But the fact is, she's kind of what Americans have been looking for."

Sunday marked McCain's 65th appearance on "Face the Nation" -- the most of any politician ever, according to Bob Schieffer, who has hosted program since 1991. "I will probably argue to you that ... you and I have never had a conversation when our economy was in greater difficulty than it is today," said McCain, offering some of his harshest criticism to date of the state of the U.S. economy.

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On Sunday's program, McCain also responded to the low participation of African-Americans in last week's GOP convention. A report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found there were only 36 African-American delegates out of more than 2,300. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, said about a quarter of its 4,400 delegates were African-American.

Asked how his party can survive "if you become just the party of white people," McCain responded, "We can't. We can't ... We've got to reach out. We've got to do a better job. We have to have the Hispanic as well as African-American voters."

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