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Top Barack Obama aide offers a White House to-do list

August 26, 2008 |  5:13 pm

DENVER -- "Clearly, the economy is an issue," says Heather Higginbottom, domestic policy director for Barack Obama.

But the first months of an Obama adminstration, she said during a panel discussion today at a downtown Denver hotel, would:

* "Responsibly" end the war in Iraq.

* Push for comprehensive health care reform

* Launch a similar effort on the energy front, with an aim of eliminating U.S. dependence on foreign oil and tackling in a more aggressive way climate change.

Laudable and ambitious goals.

But some Democrats -- increasingly worried about the apparent closeness of the presidential race (John McCain pulled into a lead nationally today in the Gallup daily tracking poll) -- may have wanted Higginbottom to emphasize the economy just a wee bit more (as they would like Obama to do on the trail).

Later, Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a panelist who hadn't arrived yet at the forum when Higginbottom held forth, tellingly named first a middle-class tax cut when asked what an Obama administration could accomplish that would make for a bright midterm election for Democrats in 2010.

Higginbottom also offered a concise summation of why Obama, despite his newness on the national stage, decided to seek the presidency (a question no doubt still bugging Hillary Rodham Clinton cadres). Said the aide: "The stakes were so high, the opportunities so ripe."

-- Don Frederick

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