From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
RICHMOND, Va. -- In his first full press conference in nearly a month, Obama said he was pleased with President Bush's decision to convene an international meeting to address the global financial crisis.
He also responded to questions about his running mate Joe Biden's recent statement that if elected, the Democrat would be "tested" by an international crisis within the first six months of his presidency.
The financial meeting -- the kind of meeting Obama said he had called for in September -- is set for mid-November, but Obama said he did not want to get ahead of himself by discussing his possible participation.
"Even though the election will have taken place and we will have a new president elect, we are still going to have one president at a time until January 20th when the new president is sworn in, so there is always a transition period – I don't want to get too much ahead of ourselves," he said, adding that his economic team was in regular contact with Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and would continue to closely monitor the situation. "But I don't want to make commitments at this point in terms of our participation, my participation in something before I've even won the election."
Obama made the comments flanked by 15 advisors who are part of his Senior Working Group on National Security. He convened the group to discuss the challenges the country faces abroad -- including the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and the financial crisis.
The senator delivered brief remarks in which he mentioned Gen. Colin Powell's endorsement -- a point that has become a part of his stump speech and one his campaign is stressing to show he has the faith of an experienced military figure uniquely familiar with global challenges facing the country. He argued it was time for a president who understands the intersection between economic strength at home and strength abroad.
He said the meeting -- planned "two to three weeks ago" -- was not a response to Biden's "tested" remarks, which he suggested were "rhetorial flourishes." He said Biden's point was in line with similar comments made by Homeland Security Sec. Michael Chertoff.
"I think the point that Joe made is actually very similar to the one that Sec. Chertoff made today or yesterday which is that whoever is the next president, is gonna have to deal with a whole host of challenges internationally and that a period of transition in a new administration is always one in which we have to be vigilant," he said. "We have to be careful, we have to be mindful that as we pass the baton in this democracy that others don't take advantage of it. That is true whether it's myself or Sen McCain and its been throughout our history."
The Obama campaign has argued that he would do a better job of repairing US relations with allies around the world and that he has shown better judgment than McCain on issues from the war in Iraq to diplomacy to dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The meeting participants included Lt. Gen. John G. Castellaw (USMC, Ret.), Mr. Greg Craig, Sec. Richard Danzig, MG Paul Eaton (USA, Ret.), Rep. Lee Hamilton, Amb. Richard Holbrooke, MG Geoff Lambert (USA, Ret.), MG Al Lenhardt (USA, Ret.), ADM John Nathman (USN, Ret.), Sen. Sam Nunn, Rep. Tim Roemer, Amb. Dennis Ross, Ms. Mara Rudman, Amb. Wendy Sherman, Brig. Gen. Jim Smith (USAF, Ret.), and Mr. Jim Steinberg. Senator Biden participated by phone, as did Secretary Madeleine Albright, Sen. Gary Hart, and Dr. Susan Rice.
Obama last spoke with a small pool of reporters in Ohio on Oct. 14 while he was preparing for the final debate. His last full press conference was on Sept. 25 in Washington during the midst of the negotiations over the rescue plan for the financial system. He took five questions from four reporters in today's avail.