When asked if he would be receptive to keeping Robert Gates as secretary of defense, Obama said, "I'm not going to get into details, but I can guarantee you that it is important for us, particularly when it comes to national security, to return to a tradition of nonpartisan national security."
Tonight, Obama will make his case to the American people in a 30-minute television ad to air in primetime on multiple networks.
Sources told ABC News that the special will focus on the economic challenges facing the next president as well as a personal discussion of health insurance and Obama's mother's death.
The ad will cost the campaign $3 million. Last year Obama and McCain both pledged to accept public financing for the general election if each became his party's nominee.
But in April 2008, Obama said the system needed to be revamped in the current age of Internet fundraising. The Obama campaign has raised more than $600 million, far exceeding the $85 million McCain received under the federal fundraising guidelines.
When asked if he was only able to buy a half-hour in primetime because he broke a promise on campaign financing, Obama said, "Well look, there is no doubt that the amount of money that we've raised in this campaign has been extraordinary, and surprised me as much as anybody, maybe more than anybody. What I would simply point to is, the way we have raised this money has been by expanding the pool of small donors in this country, in an unprecedented way."
The Obama campaign has not made public the names of donors who have contributed less than $200, but he said that his campaign had complied with Federal Elections Commission guidelines.
"You know, 3.1 million donors would be a pretty hard thing for us to be able to process," he said. "And we have done everything that's been asked of us under the FEC guidelines. These are small donors, they're ordinary folks, and the idea, behind all campaign finance reform, is to make sure that the public official is not bought and sold, that that public official is accountable to the public, that they are not subject to undue influence by big special interests in Washington, and lobbyists. ... In fact, I would argue that probably -- should I be successful, I may come into the White House with fewer strings attached to me than just about any presidential candidate in history. "
A new ad from the McCain campaign refers to the special as "fancy speeches" and "grand promises" designed to mask the fact that Obama is unprepared to lead the country through domestic and international crises.
In recent days, Gov. Sarah Palin has expanded on the McCain campaign's argument that an Obama administration would "spread the wealth" by raising taxes on Americans earning more than $250,000 annually.
Campaigning in West Virginia Tuesday night, Palin referenced a 2001 radio interview by Obama in which he discussed the civil rights movement, implying that Obama would seek to "rewrite the founding document of our great nation."
"There he was talking about the need for quote 'redistributive change,'" Palin said during her remarks. "Sen. Obama said that he regretted that the Supreme Court hadn't been more radical. And he described the Court's refusal to take up the issues of redistribution of wealth as a tragedy."