Politics & Government

Obama campaign switches focus

Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Tuesday discussed the mortgage crisis and steps the government is taking to shore up the faltering economy, his campaign said.

The Democratic presidential candidate also discussed the economy with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, part of his latest effort to shift his campaign's attention to domestic issues after a weeklong trip to the Middle East and Europe. Obama has talked mostly about the economy since returning.

He met with Bernanke for an hour, and issued a statement describing it as “informative.”

Spokesman Michael Ortiz said they discussed the outlook for consumers and businesses, and the effect of rising home foreclosures on families nationwide. They also talked about the “strengths of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other financial institutions,” he said.

Ortiz said Obama “made clear his respect for the independence of the Federal Reserve system and the special importance of its role during periods of economic uncertainty.”

Obama also met with Pakistan's new leader, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Obama said at a fundraising luncheon that he told Gilani “the only way we're going to be successful in the long term in defeating extremists … is if we are giving people opportunities. If people have a chance for a better life, then they are not as likely to turn to the ideologies of violence and despair.”

Obama later issued a statement calling the discussion, which included such topics as nuclear proliferation, human rights and terror threats from Pakistani tribal areas, “productive and wide-ranging.” He said Pakistan is an important U.S. partner.