A political pause to remember 9-11 victims

Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama made ground zero their common ground for one rare day, free from politics and infused with memory.

Putting their partisan contest on hold, they walked together Thursday into the pit where the World Trade Center once stood and honored the dead from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

They walked down a long ramp flanked with the flags of countries, chatting at times, silent other times, and sharing a quick laugh at one point. Right behind them, Cindy McCain clutched Mayor Michael Bloomberg's arm. Michelle Obama was with her daughters in Chicago.

At the bottom, the two rivals stopped to talk with a small group of family members of the attacks' victims of seven years ago. They laid flowers at the pit's commemorative reflecting pool – a pink rose from Obama, a yellow rose from McCain – bowed their heads and walked off to speak with fire and police personnel. There were no speeches.

“Thanks, we'll see ya,” McCain told Obama as the Democrat patted the Republican's back and they shook hands and parted.

Earlier, McCain spoke briefly at a simple ceremony in remote, rural western Pennsylvania, held on a large hilly field close to where United Airlines Flight 93, the third of four airliners commandeered by terrorists, crashed. Investigators believe some of the 40 passengers and crew rushed the cockpit and thwarted terrorists' plans to use that plane as a weapon like the ones that hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon. All aboard all planes died.

It was not a day for spelling out differences but rather a respectful time out in a campaign with 54 days to go. Both agreed to suspend TV ads critical of each other.

Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, visited an American Legion post in suburban Cleveland for an invitation-only gathering of police, firefighters and other first responders.

“Part of today is reminding Americans that every single day there are acts that are both ordinary and profound,” Biden said in recalling the attacks. “You suit up, head out on that vehicle not knowing what you're going to find. If, God forbid, anything remotely close to that happens, it's going to be you guys trying to save all of us.”