Barack Obama is answering a question he faced often on the campaign trail. Whom would he turn to for advice when making foreign policy decisions?
The Democratic White House hopeful has scheduled the inaugural meeting Wednesday of what he's calling his Senior Working Group on National Security. It includes former members of Congress and high-ranking Clinton administration officials.
Among them are three who advised Hillary Rodham Clinton and had 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.
Obama plans to consult the working group members regularly between now and the Nov. 4 election, but those sitting with 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, 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.
In a statement, Obama said the national security stakes could not be higher.
"It's time to change course," Obama said. "It's time to end the war in Iraq responsibly, refocus on Afghanistan and al-Qaida, and renew our global leadership so that we can tackle the huge challenges of the 21st century."
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.