WASHINGTON - Back from a nine-day overseas trip, Sen. Barack Obama made a point of turning to domestic concerns, calling a meeting Monday to solicit advice on reviving the economy and lifting wages.
Obama's 2 1/2-hour economic forum, which was closed to the media, included some of the top economic policymakers of recent Democratic and Republican administrations. Among them were Robert Rubin and Paul O'Neill, Treasury secretaries in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett took part by phone.
Obama said the economy needs short- and long-term fixes, including another "stimulus" from Congress, and a longer-term focus on renewable energy and universal health care. He said he would move "rapidly and vigorously."
The group agreed with Obama's call for a second stimulus plan, although there was some debate about the size.
Obama wants to inject another $50 billion into the economy. Laura Tyson, who headed Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers, said, "There were people in the room who felt it should be more."
Hints of a VP candidate?
Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine has told close associates that he has had "very serious" conversations with Obama about joining the Democratic ticket and has provided documents to the campaign as it combs through his background, said several sources close to Kaine. Sens. Evan Bayh of Indiana and Joe Biden of Delaware are also being seriously vetted, sources said.
Obama has revealed little about which way he is leaning. And despite rising anticipation that a decision is imminent, campaign officials said an announcement is likely in mid-August, shortly before the Democratic National Convention.
Like rival John McCain, who had skin removed from his face, Obama dealt with personal health issues. The Obama campaign said Obama saw a doctor at the University of Chicago Medical Center on Sunday night for a sore hip.