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Obama pledges to deal with emerging threats


Evan Bayh and Barack Obama appeared at a panel discussion at Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. Mr. Bayh, who had backed Hillary Clinton, is said to be on Mr. Obama's list of running mates


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Democrat Barack Obama warned yesterday about the danger of "fighting the last war" as he pledged to focus on emerging nuclear, biological, and cyber threats if elected president.

Among those joining him for a panel discussion at Purdue University were two potential running mates, Sen. Evan Bayh (D., Ind.) and former Sen. Sam Nunn (D., Ga.).

As the former governor of a Republican state, Mr. Bayh could help Mr. Obama. Mr. Nunn, a defense expert from the South, would burnish the ticket's experience.

When asked if he were interested or had given material to vetters, Mr. Bayh repeatedly referred reporters to the Obama campaign. Mr. Nunn said he thought an Obama-Nunn ticket was unlikely.

"If anyone offered me any high office in U.S. government, I'd be greatly honored and I'd talk to him. Certainly I would talk to Senator Obama if he wanted to talk about it, but I think the chance of an offer are pretty slim," Mr. Nunn said.

Mr. Obama said two goals of his administration would be to secure all loose nuclear material in his first term, as well as rid the world of nuclear weapons.

He said adhering to nonproliferation treaties would put pressure on nations such as North Korea and Iran. North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon and Iran has an energy program the Bush Administration warns could be a precursor to nuclear weapon development.

"As long as nuclear weapons exist, we'll retain a strong deterrent. But we will make the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons a central element in our nuclear policy," Mr. Obama said.

He added, "The danger is that we are constantly fighting the last war, responding to the threats that have come to fruition, instead of staying one step ahead of the threats of the 21st century."

Despite the policy focus, politics permeated the event.

Mr. Bayh repeatedly extolled Mr. Obama's virtues, despite having supported Hillary Clinton in the primary campaign.

Recalling a trip he and Mr. Obama had made to Iraq, Mr. Bayh said in his introduction of Mr. Obama: "He was pragmatic, he was focused, although he was wise enough to oppose that conflict from the beginning because he understood it was a strategic diversion. He's now tough enough to get us out and to do it in the right way, refocus on Afghanistan and Iran and the other real threats that are evolving."

During his opening, Mr. Obama paid tribute to Sen. Richard Lugar, a popular Indiana Republican who has focused on nuclear nonproliferation issues and worked with Mr. Nunn.

Indiana is a Republican-leaning state that Mr. Obama hopes to put in play in the general election, capitalizing in part on his status as a senator from neighboring Illinois.

In addition to his focus on nuclear issues, Mr. Obama called for investing in methods to prevent, detect, and contain biological attacks. He highlighted a proposal to spend $5 billion in three years to develop an international intelligence and law enforcement infrastructure to stymie terrorist networks.

Coping with cyber security for an increasingly online world will protect the country's economic and national security assets, Mr. Obama said. He vowed to name a cyber adviser who will coordinate government efforts and report directly to the president.

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