Politics | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Obama Chooses His Running Mate

By: Lee Gordon Email
By: Lee Gordon Email

Barack Obama said Thursday he's chosen his running mate, but coyly kept all the details to himself as he campaigned with one leading contender and planned a major rally to present the Democratic ticket Saturday in Illinois.

Obama refused to say whether he'd notified his pick or when exactly he would send cell phones buzzing with the answer delivered via text message. He seemed to relish the frustrations of scores of reporters following him this week in anticipation of the announcement.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" he said with a grin when asked by an Associated Press reporter when the text would be sent.

"I've made the selection, that's all you're gonna get," Obama said as he visited a store selling roasted Virginia peanuts as nonchalantly as any other day campaigning in a battleground state.

Obama planned to appear with his pick Saturday at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., where he launched his presidential campaign in February 2007. Obama then planned to travel to the battlegrounds of Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Montana before arriving in Denver to accept his party's nomination Thursday.

One person who had been vetted for the position told The Associated Press there had been no contact from Obama or his campaign about the decision. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Obama campaign had not authorized public comment.

The Illinois senator was widely thought to be considering Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Evan Bayh of Indiana along with Govs. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. None of them gave anything away - at least not in words.

Obama spent part of the day with Kaine, who reportedly told a colleague Wednesday that he believed he was on the short list. West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin said Kaine told him although he hadn't heard anything from the Obama campaign on where he stands at the time, "he really thinks he has a chance at the short straw."

But Kaine may have had more information Thursday after he campaigned with Obama, including a private meeting between the two men and Kaine's staff for 15 minutes at a Richmond hotel. Afterward, Kaine said he would let the Obama campaign speak about whether the candidate asked him to be his No. 2.

If Kaine had good news when he appeared with Obama at a discussion of the economy in Chester, Va., he hid it well. The governor hardly spoke as he sat slumped and expressionless, and Obama acknowledged him only in passing.

Asked later at a news conference if he was heading to Springfield, Ill., on Saturday, Kaine said he and his family were flying out Friday night for Denver. When pressed if it was a nonstop, direct flight to Denver, he smiled and would not comment.

Biden had a family gathering at his home Thursday afternoon, with his wife Jill, niece Missy Owens and son Beau, Delaware's attorney general coming and going past reporters staked outside. Biden ran errands, including a visit to the dentist, but didn't speak to the media as he came and went.

Biden is a favorite for the vice presidential nomination among Democrats who think Obama could use his experience and tough campaign style. Biden has served 35 years in Congress, while Obama has served three.

Sebelius, campaigning for Obama in Iowa, said being mentioned as a potential running mate is something of "an out-of-body experience."

"Whoever it is, I am an enthusiastic supporter," she said but added she would leave the announcement to the campaign.

It's possible Obama could make a surprise selection, although at least one of the dark horse candidates appeared out of the running. Former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn's spokesman said he was be traveling out of the country on international business until Monday, which makes a visit to Springfield Saturday seem unlikely.

New polls out this week show Obama is neck-and-neck with GOP rival John McCain and still has yet to win over some supporters of Democratic primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton. The polls sparked fresh discussion of whether Obama would make a surprise selection of Clinton as his running mate.

Clinton had other plans for the weekend. She was scheduled to visit the New York State Fair Friday and speak in Fresno, Calif., Sunday at the United Farm Workers of America's 18th Constitutional Convention.


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