WASHINGTON (AFP) — Front-running Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said in a TV interview Wednesday that he would place Republicans in his cabinet if he wins the election, but stopped short of saying it would include current Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
In an interview with ABC News, Obama also said he was "absolutely" behind a new stimulus package for the economy in the face of possible deep recession.
Asked in the taped interview broadcast late Wednesday whether he wanted to form a bipartisan cabinet, Obama replied that he would "absolutely" want Republicans in his cabinet, and "not just as show pieces."
"On a whole host of cases, Republicans have good ideas. And, you know, I've always been more than happy to steal good ideas from whatever the source," he said.
Obama said he did not have a final list for his White House team.
But, he added, "I've got some pretty good ideas about the senior cabinet of government officials that I think could perform very well for the country."
He declined to say whether Gates, whose handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has earned respect from both Democrats and Republicans, was on his short list for secretary of defense.
"I'm not going to get into details, but I can guarantee you that it is important for us, particularly, when it comes to national security, to return to a tradition of nonpartisan national security," the Democratic senator said.
Obama reiterated his belief in the need for a second economic stimulus program, in the wake of President George W. Bush's massive tax rebates of earlier this year.
"I think it is absolutely necessary for us to have a second stimulus package," he said.
"I don't think that we should be focused on the deficit right now because if this economy continues to slide the way it is, then that, over the long term, will actually make our deficit worse."
He also said that banks enjoying support from the government's 700 billion dollar support plan need a "strong signal" that "part of their obligation is to get some of that money out the door to small businesses that are having trouble making payroll."
"What I would say is, the taxpayers didn't put up 700 billion dollars to stabilize the system just so you guys can sit on your hands and watch businesses collapse across the country."
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