After sitting with rival McCain at services for newsman Tim Russert, Obama today meets with advisors on national security, and retired generals and admirals.
Armed with new polls that show him running ahead of his Republican presidential rival in three battleground states, Democrat Barack Obama today turned his attention to foreign policy issues.
Obama met with his new senior working group on national security, advisors who include former secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher, and former Defense Secretary William Perry, who worked for President Clinton and advised Hillary Rodham Clinton during her campaign.
“We continue to face grave threats, not only from terrorism, but also nuclear
proliferation, climate change and poverty, genocide and disease,” Obama told reporters allowed to attend the opening of the meeting in Washington. “Nearly all of these threats have grown over the last eight years because of the policies of George Bush, which I believe have left us less safe and less respected in the world.
“Instead of adhering to a rigid ideology, I want to get back to the pragmatic tradition of American foreign policy which has been so ably advanced by the people in this room, a policy that’s focused on using all elements of American power to protect our people and to advance our interests,” Obama said.
Obama and John McCain, the presumptive Republican candidate, have pressed their foreign policy credentials. They disagree on a range of issues, including how to end American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This morning, Obama and McCain sat together at the funeral for NBC newsman Tim Russert. Obama went to his foreign policy meeting and McCain traveled to Springfield, Mo., where he delivered a speech on energy and economic policy, his second in as many days.
Meanwhile, Obama received some good news when the latest surveys by Quinnipiac University found that he was leading McCain in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania — all considered key states in the November election.
According to the polls posted on the university’s website, Obama is ahead 47% to 43% in Florida, 48% to 42% in Ohio and 52% to 40% in Pennsylvania.
During the Democratic primary season, Hillary Clinton won out over Obama in Pennsylvania and Ohio. She also took Florida, though neither she nor Obama campaigned in the Southern state because of a dispute over the timing of the primary.
Clinton ran strongly among women and blue-collar white men, key groups that Obama needs to woo. McCain has been campaigning strongly for former Clinton supporters, particularly women.
According to the Quinnipiac polls, Obama solidly leads McCain in the three states among women, while the fight to win the support of white men is too close to call. Obama trails McCain among white voters in Florida and Ohio, but is supported by more than nine out of 10 African Americans.
Obama also is running up double-digit leads among young voters in each state.
“Finally getting Sen. Hillary Clinton out of the race has been a big boost for Sen. Barack Obama. He now leads in all three of the major swing states, although his margins in Florida and Ohio are small,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement.
The polls also show that Clinton would hurt the Democratic ticket among independents in the three states if she were Obama’s running mate.
“The people who really matter come November — independent voters — turn thumbs down on the idea. And, many say they are less likely to vote for him if he puts her on the ticket,” Brown said.
The polls were conducted from June 9-16. The Florida and Ohio polls have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points. The Pennsylvania survey had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.