Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wave to the audience before the start of the townhall-style presidential debate at Belmont University. (AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Would politics be better if someone like John McCain were running for president? President Barack Obama seems to think so.
Obama is waxing nostalgic for the man he defeated last time around, embracing McCain as a reasonable voice on climate change and immigration who took on extremism in his own party.
It's a way to draw a contrast with Obama's current Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, and try to convince independent voters that the GOP nominee is outside the mainstream.
The president's flattering memories of McCain are a far cry from their 2008 campaign clashes, when Obama hammered his rival as "out of touch" with many of the problems facing Americans. And they belie the reality of Obama's current dynamic with McCain, who remains one of the president's staunchest critics.