Foreign Policy Questions Abound Even As Obama Shifts Back to Domestic Issues

From CBS News' Allison O'Keefe:

(CHICAGO) – During his first appearance since returning home last night, Barack Obama made it clear that he is ready to focus on domestic issues, answering questions about issues such as affirmative action and immigration.

But that didn't stop questioners at today's UNITY '08 minority journalists' conference from asking what he learned on his foreign trip and what more international experience he needs to gain.

Pointing out that one trip overseas doesn't turn one into an international expert, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux asked Obama, "What more do you need to learn?"

Obama said that you don't "ever stop learning" and that despite criticism he feels that the leaders with whom he met "feel confident that I know what I am doing."

He was also pressed about his opposition to the surge in Iraq and responded with a hint of frustration.

"I have not heard yet someone ask John McCain if his vote to go to war with Iraq was a mistake," said Obama.

When asked about the "audacity of this trip," Obama tried to downplay all the hype that went along with his travels last week.

"I basically met with the same folks [John] McCain met with" when he became the presumptive nominee, argued Obama. "No one suggested that was audacious."

Obama added that he and McCain were meeting with leaders that each may have to deal with if one of them were to be elected President. And Obama was clearly confident about his performance.

"I admit we did it really well. But that shouldn't be a strike against me. If I were stumbling and bumbling through it, I would have been criticized for that."

He was later asked, "Do you think you could have come this far if you were a Muslim?" Obama brushed the question off saying Americans are more tolerant that they're given credit for.

When asked if he thought he had alienated Muslim voters by strongly fighting rumors that he is Muslim, Obama said, "This is a classic example of a no win situation."

"I just don't like the idea of somebody falsely identifying my religion."

He went on to say that his credentials in supporting Muslim Americans is very strong.

"I have visited Mosques in my community and met with Muslim leaders," said Obama.

Obama travels to Washington, D.C. tomorrow to meet with his economic team before campaigning through the Midwest as he continues shifting his focus back to domestic issues.
  • Allison O'Keefe

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