Obama Huddles With House Democrats
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) met behind closed doors with the entire House Democratic Caucus Tuesday evening, emphasizing his plan to reach out to congressional Democrats, both during his campaign and his presumptive administration.
Members described an upbeat session marked by calls for unity. The one note of discord came when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) asked whether Obama planned to implement a "Team of Rivals" strategy in selecting his Cabinet. Specifically, Schiff asked whether Obama might keep Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his current post, prompting a chorus of boos and hisses from the assembled Democrats. Obama responded that he was focused on getting elected before he would consider such decisions.
During the hour-long session in the Cannon Caucus Room, according to members who were present Obama touched on subjects ranging from Iran and FISA to energy policy and Justice Department malfeasance.
Rep. Shelly Berkley (D-Nev.) said that Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) had asked Obama about his stance on the current state of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. "If the Iranians don't accept a deal now because they think they're going to get a better deal from the next president, they're mistaken," Obama responded, according to Berkley.
Obama was particularly pointed in discussing recent reports of partisanship and other malfeasance at the Justice Department. "He said his first order of business will be to direct his attorney general to find out what's gone wrong there," said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).
"There were no surprises," said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.). Asked whether the subject of Obama's vice-presidential search came up, Ackerman said: "Are you kidding? There were 230 vice presidents in the room."
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) said after the meeting that Obama reminded him of the last Democratic occupant of the White House. "It's very similar in manner to dealing with President Clinton. There isn't a thing that he can't answer, any question he can't just wow you with in terms of his answer," Kennedy said.
After a brief photo-op following the meeting, Obama walked to the elevator with his arm around Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the two of them smiling and laughing. Pelosi seemed to say her farewell as Obama entered an elevator, then after a moment's hesitation, jumped into the car with him just before the door closed.
July 29, 2008; 8:10 PM ET
Categories: 2008 Campaign , Dem. Leaders , House
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