Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain will put their political campaigning aside for a day as the nation remembers the fallen heroes of Sept. 11th. They will make an unprecedented joint appearance at a Ground Zero commemoration and lay a wreath, without making any speeches.
Afterward, they will separately appear at a public form on civic engagement at Columbia University. Several cable news outlets plan to televise the forum live at 8 p.m. Eastern.
"Both parties have used it [9/11] for their own political benefits, but it is risky," Trent Duffy, a former aide to President George W. Bush and a partner at the Washington communications firm HDMK, told Julianna Goldman of Bloomberg. The candidates "realize that the best statesmanship, and hence the best political move, is to not play politics on 9/11."
Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time magazine and a co-moderator of the forum, told Politico.com's Mike Allen that he will encourage the candidates to be “both eloquent and intimate about their beliefs in this area.”
“I hope they will be able to blend the personal with the political on this subject, so that they can talk about what is it in their own lives that made them believe and care about this, as opposed to just saying, ‘Here’s my policy,’
“Their lives have revolved around service. Both men, from an early age, had the idea of service built into their own view of their lives and what they would do with their lives. I think whoever is president will make service a big part of their administration.”