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Bill Clinton: He's really, really glad to see John McCain

September 25, 2008 |  8:52 am

John McCain, in suspending his presidential campaign to (eventually) head back to Washington from New York to help the push for a financial rescue plan, may have nixed a planned appearance on "Late Night with David Letterman" and cancelled a chat with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

But McCain wasn't about to snub his old friend, Bill Clinton, this morning. And the ex-president, for all his expressions of support for Barack Obama and predictions of victory in November for his fellow Democrat, continues to give the impression he's definitrely hedging his bets.Former President Bill Clinton introduces John McCain at a conference in New York

McCain kept his promise to address the annual meeting in the Big Apple of the Clinton Global Initiative, founded to fight malaria, global warming, poverty and other ills that know no borders. McCain's wife, Cindy, and his running mate, Sarah Palin, came along to lend support.

The Times' Bob Drogin also was there, and he reports, that Clinton was effusive in his introduction, saying he was "personally profoundly honored" and "profoundly grateful" that McCain showed up.

Obama, he noted less warmly, would speak to the group later by satellite feed from Florida, where he's been encamped for prep sessions for the Friday debate that may or may not take place.

Clinton, for all his kind words he lavished on McCain, did throw the Republican a curve ball.

Afrer his introduction, Clinton picked up a sheaf of papers as he left the podium. As McCain arrived at that perch, he looked down and suddenly appeared anxious.

By then, Clinton was on his way back to the podium, waving papers in his hand.

"I took his speech," he said, laughing.

"What kind of host is that?" McCain joked back. He grinned broadly as he unfolded the pages, adding, "I almost gave one of the most extemporaneous speeches of my political career."

Not really. The paper copy was just a backup. McCain read his speech from a Teleprompter.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images

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