Obama: My Cabinet Would Be Bipartisan

Candidate tells Charlie Gibson he would work with Republicans if elected.

October 29, 2008, 10:15 AM

Oct. 29, 2008— -- With Election Day less than a week away, presidential candidate Barack Obama said if elected he would choose a bipartisan Cabinet and criticized John McCain's campaign's recent attacks on his economic plan.

Obama told ABC News' Charlie Gibson that he didn't have a list of people he wanted to bring into the government but said "I've got some pretty good ideas about the senior Cabinet of government officials that I think could perform very well for the country. ... I have a good idea of who the candidates would be."

Obama said he would reach across the aisle on a range of issues, from energy independence to health care to education.

"On a whole host of these issues, I think we need Republicans, not just as show pieces," Obama told Gibson. "In some cases, Republicans have good ideas. And, you know, I've always been more than happy to steal good ideas from whatever the source."


Obama told Gibson that his campaign was "not taking anything for granted" and that his "singular focus is winning this election," but also said that whoever wins needs to be prepared to "hit the ground running."

He said he would encourage Democrats to "draw the right lesson from any victory" and "come in with some modesty and humility" if they win.

In recent weeks, the McCain campaign has criticized Obama's tax plan as a socialist effort to redistribute wealth, but Obama told Gibson that his plan was "as American as apple pie."

"I want everybody to succeed," he said. "I want everybody to have the opportunity at grabbing the brass ring. And we need to grow our economy and expand the pie. So this notion that somehow I'm interested in punishing wealth or success is nonsense.

"There's no class warfare involved in that," Obama said. "That's just basic American common sense and fairness."

Obama on Bipartisanship, Bailout Plan

Obama offered support for a second stimulus package that would go beyond stabilizing the system to increasing lending to small businesses and cutting the rate of foreclosure.

"I think it is absolutely necessary for us to have a second stimulus package," Obama said. "I think that we've got to take a look at where the economy is going to be in a month. I think we've got to take a careful look at this budget. But I don't think that we should be focused on the deficit right now because if this economy continues to slide the way it is, then that, over the long term, will actually make our deficit worse."

Obama, who voted in favor of the $700 billion financial rescue plan, said a "strong signal" needs to be sent to the banks that have received the first installments of funds that while they must exert caution in terms of lending, they also need to "make sure they're getting some of that money out the door."

"What I would say is the taxpayers didn't put up $700 billion to stabilize the system just so you guys can sit on your hands and watch businesses collapse across the country," Obama said.

Obama told Gibson that he would "absolutely" want Republicans in his cabinet if he was elected, and stressed the importance of protecting national security interests would influence his choices.

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.

Palin Says Obama Would Seek 'Redistributive Change'

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."

"I will give a tax cut to 95 percent of Americans," Obama told the crowd in Raleigh, defending his economic plan and accusing the McCain campaign of trying to label him a "communist" because he shared his toys as a child.

When asked if the "redistributionist" label was a compliment or an insult, Obama said, "Well, I gather he means it as an insult."

"All we want to do is restore some balance so that the economy is growing from the bottom up," Obama told Gibson. "That's good for everybody. ... There's nothing wrong with us going back to these old tax rates in order to give tax relief to 95 percent of Americans who have been struggling even when the economy was growing. Now, that basic principle is as American as apple pie."

McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds responded to Obama's speech in a statement: "No one cares what Barack Obama does with his toys, but Americans do care that he wants to raise taxes, add a trillion dollars in new spending and redistribute your hard-earned paycheck as he sees fit."

Focus on Battleground States in Final Stretch

In Raleigh, N.C., today, Obama urged supporters not to let up "when there's so much at stake." Obama said McCain had stood by President Bush's economic policies.

"He hasn't been a maverick, he's been a sidekick," Obama said in his speech.

Obama spent the day campaigning in North Carolina before heading to Florida, where Gov. Charlie Crist has ordered polls to stay open an extra four hours a day and 12 hours over the weekend for early voting due to record turnout. According to early voting figures, nearly 12 million people nationwide will have cast their ballots before Nov. 4.

Late tonight, Obama will hold a joint rally with former President Bill Clinton in Kissimmee, Fla.

Last week, when early voting began in the Sunshine State, Obama appeared in Orlando with Sen. Hillary Clinton. In their first joint interview, Obama told ABC News that Clinton was "a more effective messenger for us than just about anybody" in Florida.

McCain campaigned today in Florida, attempting to convince voters that Obama is still not ready to lead on critical issues, particularly national security.

In a speech in Tampa, McCain said Obama was unprepared "to protect America from Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and other grave threats in the world."

According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, while McCain has narrowed Obama's lead to 9 points when it comes to who voters trust to manage the economy, Obama maintains a 51 percent to 41 percent advantage in the area of whom voters trust more to address the issue of taxes.

Obama said he has considered what he would do in the future if he lost the election.

"Michelle and I were extraordinarily happy before I started running," he said. "And, you know, I'm a relatively young man. You know, they say that there are no second acts in politics, but, you know, I think there are enough exceptions out there that I could envision returning to the Senate and just doing some terrific work with the next president and the next Congress."

When asked to complete the sentence "On Nov. 5, I'm so happy I won't have to...," Obama laughed and said, "Pack. I am so tired of packing. ... I'm so tired of not having breakfast with my girls. You know, waking up and hearing their chatter -- sometimes, they'll crawl into bed with Michelle and me and they're bouncing around and poking and prodding you and telling you about what's going to happen in their day. Then going downstairs and fixing them some waffles or something. That is -- that is the sweetest of moments. And I haven't had enough of those over the last two years."

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