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Obama Confers with Congressional Democrats

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama met Tuesday with majority Democrats in the U.S House of Representatives. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill, Senator Obama delivered a pep talk about the November presidential and congressional election, as his rival Republican John McCain was on the campaign trail.

Senator Obama appeared with Democratic leaders after meeting for about an hour with House Democrats.

Speaking to reporters, Obama said he believes Democrats have a good chance of strengthening their hold on Congress in November. "If the American people can feel confident that the institutions here in Washington are working for them and not on behalf of special interests, then I think this can be an incredible election, not only to elect a Democratic president but also to expand our majority in the House and expand our majority in the Senate," he said.

Obama sounded a note of bipartisanship, saying he hopes to be able to work with what he called right-minded Republicans if he is elected president.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described Democrats as unified in their enthusiasm about Senator Obama, and their excitement about his ideas. "We had a wonderful discussion about energy infrastructure, health care, America's leadership role in the world. We congratulated Senator Obama for his trip, for presenting that face of America to the world, and for his ideas to take us into the future," she said.

Representative John Larson, vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, says Obama was impressive in an hour in which House Democrats asked questions about his recent overseas trip and U.S. energy policy. "This being a moment when we have to seize the opportunity to put forward the kind of comprehensive energy policy that we are going to need to address the concerns of the country."

Jim Clyburn, the Democratic Majority Whip, said Obama also reflected on the key points he tried to communicate to an estimated 200-thousand people who heard him speak in Germany. "That to me was a seminal moment in his talk today, the fact that he is symbolic of what people want to see this country do in reclaiming its moral authority [in the world]."

Republican John McCain acknowledged, during an appearance in Nevada, that he sees himself as the underdog in the presidential race: "I think we have to assume, despite the fluctuations of the polls up and down, [that] I am the underdog in this race, and I am going to need every single one of you to get out there and get out the vote in Nevada and I relish the underdog role," he said.

With Democratic and Republican nominating conventions just a few weeks away, speculation is intense about who Senator Obama and Republican John McCain will choose as their vice presidential running mates.

As Obama told reporters he is eager to hit the campaign trail, McCain spent Tuesday continuing to attack his Democratic rival on a range of issues, from energy and high gasoline prices to his position on Iran.