Candidates Discuss Service at Forum

Both Barack Obama and John McCain appeared on the same stage at Columbia University last night for a forum on national service on the 7th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. WNYC's Andrea Bernstein has more.

REPORTER: The premise of the forum, sponsored by the group ServiceNation, was that September 11 had stirred Americans to service, and that that commitment should be revived.

But John McCain clearly had the tougher row to hoe. He critiqued President Bush for not doing enough to capture that spirit while not criticizing him directly, encouraged Americans to believe in government while attacking it for being bloated and ineffective, and defended the sharp attacks of his running mate while also praising community organizing.

For his part, Obama, whose interview was frequently punctuated by whoops and cheers, defended the role of government in stimulating national service, called for a much larger national service corps, and said, if elected, he'd "make government cool again." For WNYC, I'm Andrea Bernstein.