August 21, 2008 / 6:36 PM / 11 years ago

Obama vows "best and brightest" foreign policy team

CHESTER, Virginia (Reuters) - Presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Thursday he would assemble a foreign policy team of the “best and the brightest” and mentioned some people who may be considered for jobs if he wins the White House.

Former Senator Sam Nunn (L) and Senator Richard Lugar during a 2007 visit to Moscow. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin

Former Georgia senator Sam Nunn and former U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke were among the Democrats Obama said he would turn to for advice.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said he would also seek the counsel of Republicans such as Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel.

Republican John McCain, Obama’s rival in the November 4 election, has emphasized his background as a Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war as well as years of involvement as a senator in foreign policy to argue that he is more qualified to serve as U.S. commander-in-chief.

McCain accuses Obama, a first-term Illinois senator, of lacking seasoning and judgment on foreign policy matters.

At a town hall meeting in Chester, Virginia, Obama said his early opposition to the Iraq war showed he had better judgment than McCain, who supported it.

But he added, “That doesn’t mean that I know everything. I’ve got to have good, smart advisers around me ... It’s not like I just kind of show up, you know, one day in the White House and say, ‘Alright, what’s today?’”

Listing those he already consults on foreign affairs, Obama mentioned Nunn, Holbrooke and former Secretary of Defense William Perry.

“We will have the best and brightest — and by the way, they don’t have to be Democrats,” he said. “There are Republicans like Richard Lugar, the chairman of the (Senate) Foreign Relations committee, who is one of my dearest friends and advisers in the Senate.”

Obama also recalled his trip in July to Iraq and Afghanistan with Hagel.

“He’s a staunch Republican, but Chuck and I agree almost on every item of foreign policy,” he said.

Reporting by Caren Bohan, editing by David Storey

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