Friday August 22, 2008
On a day and night of political suspense, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden emerged as a leading contender Friday to become Barack Obama's vice presidential pick as two running mate rivals learned they had been eliminated.
Virginia Gov. Tom Kaine spread word he had been ruled out and Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana was told he was not Obama's choice, according to party officials.
The normally loquacious Biden maintained a low profile as associates said they believed - but did not know - he would be tapped. They added they had been asked to stand by in case their help was needed.
Additionally, several associates of Obama - including some at his campaign headquarters in Chicago - said they believed Biden was
the choice, though they cautioned they had not been told directly.
Compounding the mystery, conservative Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas
emerged - however briefly - as a contender.
Former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's chances remained uncertain, although several aides said they do not believe she was in contention. They added the Obama campaign had never requested financial or other records from her.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius rounded out the roster of likely
contenders - a list that did not take into account any surprises that Obama might harbor.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, nooooo," Sebelius told reporters who asked for her latest thoughts on the months-long search.
Three days before Democrats open their convention in Denver, officials said the Obama campaign had taken the trouble to print material bearing the names of several potential ticket mates. The result was to minimize the significance of a report that one company was churning out signs bearing Bayh's name.
Obama told reporters on Thursday he had made his choice, and aides used the prospect of a text-message announcement to try and attract additional supporters by soliciting their cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
Even that became occasion for intrigue.
Late Friday, several officials said the text message announcement would be distributed Saturday morning, a few hours before a scheduled rally at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., where the Democratic ticket would appear for the first time.
Hundreds of miles to the west, carpenters, electricians, sound stage gurus and others transformed the Pepsi Center in Denver into a made-for-television convention venue.
Tucked away in one corner were thousands of lightweight rolled
cardboard tubes, ready-made handles for signs bearing the names of
the Democratic ticket - once the identity of Obama's running mate
Edwards, whom House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had touted for running
mate, told The Associated Press in Waco, Texas, "I have had
interactions with the Obama campaign over the last several months
but I will not get into details."
Kaine, a moderate governor from a swing state, boarded a private
plane at a small airport for a flight that aides said would take
him to suburban Denver.
Bayh, a second-term senator, attended tennis camp with one of
his sons, while Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, evidently spent the day at his home in Delaware.
"My answer to any question about the subject that I think you're referring to is that all inquiries should be directed at Senator Obama's campaign," said Clinton, the former first lady who came close to capturing the nomination in the primaries of last winter and spring.
Despite the advice, neither Obama nor his aides were saying.
"Obviously, the most important question is: Is this person ready to be president?" Obama told "The Early Show" on CBS. Second, he said, was: "Can this person help me govern? Are they going to be an effective partner in creating the kind of economic opportunity here at home and guiding us through some dangerous waters internationally?"
And, he added: "I want somebody who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policymaking.
Among those believed in the running, Edwards and Biden fit the mold of running mate with experience in defense or foreign policy - areas in which Obama is rated relatively poorly in the polls compared with Republican Sen. John McCain.
Clinton's credentials were forged in the primaries and caucuses where she ran a close second to Obama in the battle for the nomination. She maintains a loyal following among Democrats, many of whom have yet to swing behind the man who defeated her.
There was no shortage of other speculation, ranging from GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who traveled with Obama to Iraq and
Afghanistan, to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic
presidential nominee, to Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut.
The emergence of Edwards as a possible selection was the
surprise of the day.
Edwards is a favorite of Pelosi, who praised his "extraordinary
credentials" on ABC's "This Week" on Aug. 3 and said: "I hope
he will be the nominee."
One Democratic official with knowledge of the conversation said
Obama told Pelosi recently that she would be pleased with the
choice. Other Democratic officials said he was on the short list.
All spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to discuss Obama's selection process.
Edwards, chairman of the Appropriations Committee's military
construction and veterans affairs subcommittee, is a nine-term
moderate Democrat representing the GOP-leaning Texas district. He
is well-known in Texas but does not have a national profile.
Stay with CBS19 for the very latest on Obama's forthcoming announcement.