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Senator says Obama vice presidential vetting team looking at retired military

Barack Obama is considering former top military leaders among his possible running mates, according to a senator who met Tuesday with the Democratic presidential candidate's vice presidential vetting team.
North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad told The Associated Press that the team asked him about potential candidates from three broad categories _ current top elected officials, former top elected officials, and former top military leaders.
Conrad would not disclose the names they discussed, and the Obama campaign has been keeping the process a closely guarded secret.
"We talked about many names," Conrad said, including "some that are out of the box but I think would be very well received by the American people, including former top military leaders."
Obama has a three-person team managing the vetting process that includes the daughter of slain President John F. Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, as well as former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder and the former CEO of government-backed mortgage lender Fannie Mae, Jim Johnson.
The vetters have been holding meetings with several Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill to get their input. Conrad met with Holder and Johnson.
"I sensed from this meeting that they are still very much building the list and at the same time evaluating possibilities," Conrad said. "It's very clear they have reached no conclusions, not even tentative conclusions."
Many former military leaders have been involved in the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign. Some of Obama's most prominent campaign advisers have been Gen. Tony McPeak, who was Air Force chief of staff during Operation Desert Storm; Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, who flew repeated combat missions and has worked with Obama on a range of military issues since before he began his presidential campaign; and Richard Danzig, who was secretary of the Navy under President Bill Clinton.
He might also look at some of former rival Hillary Rodham Clinton's top military advisers in a gesture of unity, retired generals who include Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; or Wesley Clark, who led the war in Kosovo and ran in the presidential primary four years ago. Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who served as Navy secretary under President Ronald Reagan, has also been frequently mentioned as a possible running mate.
Campaigning in St. Louis, Obama was asked about criticism from Republican rival John McCain of Johnson having received loans from Countrywide Financial Corp. with the help of the firm's chief executive, Angelo Mozilo. Countrywide is part of a federal investigation in the midst of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.
Holder has also come under Republican criticism for his role in helping fugitive financier Marc Rich get a pardon from Clinton.
Obama said he was not hiring "a vetter to vet the vetters."
"Jim Johnson has a very discrete task, as does Eric Holder, and that is simply to gather up information about potential vice presidential candidates," Obama said. "They are performing that job well. It is a volunteer, unpaid position. ... They're not people who I have assigned to a particular job in a future administration."
Associated Press writer Charles Babington in St. Louis contributed to this report.
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Updated : 2021-12-02 09:19 GMT+08:00