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Associated Press - Obama Meets With National Security Advisory Group

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Associated Press - Obama Meets With National Security Advisory Group

Democrat Barack Obama sought advice Wednesday from national security experts who served in Congress and the Clinton administration on how to overhaul U.S. foreign policy if he wins the presidency.

Obama, who has been in Congress only three years and has been criticized as inexperienced on foreign policy, met in a Washington hotel ballroom with his new Senior Working Group on National Security, made up of experts in international affairs. He said he will consult with them regularly.

"We continue to face grave threats, not only from terrorism, but also nuclear proliferation, climate change and poverty, genocide and disease," Obama told reporters allowed to attend the opening of the meeting. "Nearly all of these threats have grown over the last eight years because of the policies of George Bush, which I believe have left us less safe and less respected in the world.

"Instead of adhering to a rigid ideology, I want to get back to the pragmatic tradition of American foreign policy which has been so ably advanced by the people in this room, a policy that's focused on using all elements of American power to protect our people and to advance our interests," Obama said.

The 13-member group includes three who advised Hillary Rodham Clinton and served in her husband's Cabinet—former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher and former Defense Secretary William Perry.

Obama also was meeting Wednesday with nearly 40 retired admirals and generals to discuss the state of the military and the challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Those joining him in the two meetings would be likely picks to serve in high posts if he is elected. They could be secretaries of defense or state, national security advisers or maybe even a running mate.

Former Pentagon leaders are among Obama's possible vice presidential picks, those who have been consulted on the search have said. The first-term Illinois senator may look for a military or national security expert to help counter Republican candidate John McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and former prisoner of war.

Other working group members include Sam Nunn of Georgia, Lee Hamilton of Indiana, David Boren of Oklahoma and Tim Roemer of Indiana—all former Democratic lawmakers known for their foreign policy expertise. It also includes several Clinton administration officials—Tony Lake, Susan Rice, Greg Craig, Eric Holder, Richard Danzig and Jim Steinberg. Holder, a former deputy attorney general, is helping lead Obama's search for a running mate.

Obama plans to spend the day in Washington Wednesday and also will meet with union leaders and attend a $28,500-per-person Democratic National Committee fundraiser hosted by Robert Kennedy's widow Ethel at Hickory Hill, her home in McLean, Va.


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