From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
DAYTON, Ohio -- President George W. Bush's announcement regarding his plan for modest troop redeployments from Iraq does not go far enough to push the country's leaders toward political reconciliation, Obama said Tuesday.
In a 15-minute press conference, in which he also touched on the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and acknowledged the popularity of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin among Republicans, the Illinois senator told reporters Bush's plan for redeployment from Iraq to a new name for the same "strategic mistakes" he says have dominated U.S. foreign policy for the last five years, because it would mean keeping 140,000 troops in Iraq when the military is overstretched and spending $10 billion a month there while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus.
The senator said he was pleased Bush had announced more troops for Afghanistan -- something he said he had been advocating for years -- but said that plan also came up short.
"The most substantial increase will come when an additional Army brigade is deployed five months from now - in February, after the President has left office," Obama said. "His plan comes up short - it is not enough troops, and not enough resources, with not enough urgency."
He repeated a frequent theme of his campaign, that McCain would mean more of the same because he would continue the focus on Iraq at the expense of the effort in Afghanistan.
"Sen. McCain goes even further than President Bush in opposing the sovereign Iraqi government's own support for a timetable to redeploy our troops, while offering no plan to press the Iraqis to reconcile," he said.
Obama troubled by Fannie/Freddie CEO severance pay
Obama said he was troubled by the news that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae's CEOs could receive multimillion-dollar severance packages as part of the government takeover of the beleaguered mortgage lenders.
"I've always said any action with respect to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac needs to put taxpayers first and can't under any circumstances bail out shareholders or senior management of that company -- those companies," he said, adding that he had sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Dir. James Lockhart sharing his concern with them.
"The legislation I supported over the summer gave the government the authority to deny golden parachutes in the event of taxpayer funds being used for the companies," he said. "I hope that the Treasury Secretary is giving this matter serious consideration, certainly I think taxpayers here in Dayton would not want to hear that part of this package includes a multimillion-dollar bonuses, particularly because so many people here are out of work.
During a brief question-and-answer session after his initial statement, Obama repeatedly acknowledged that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had excited the Republican base but insisted that he did not pay attention to polls and said he believed his proposals for where he wants to take America would win out "when the dust settles."
Just a post-convention bump
"I know that after our convention, we had -- we had a bump -- after theirs, they get a bump," Obama said. "I think that what you're going to see settling in is that the race is gonna be very close in most of the battleground states, which is really what matters, and what we're looking forward to is having a debate about how we're actually going to change Washington and who's best equipped to do it.
Palin 'on the minds of all of you'
On whether the selection of Palin is swaying women voters, Obama said, "I just think that the notion that people are swinging back and forth in the span of a few weeks, or a few days this wildly generally isn't borne out," he said. "These are the same polls that had me 20 down last summer that have sung wildly thought this process. There is no doubt that Gov. Palin attracted a lot of attention this week, she's been on the minds of all of you, and as a consequence has been before the American people constantly throughout the week and has brought excitement to the Republican Party, there is no doubt about that.
Obama said Palin was most popular with right-wing voters.
"There is no doubt that you know the Republicans are excited particularly the right wing of the party is excited by Sen. or Gov. Palin's choice," he said. "I think that has less to go with gender than it has to do with her ideological predispositions, which are closely aligned to theirs."