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Obama hints at VP, but won't divulge his choice

Obama hints at VP, but won't divulge his choice

Democrat Barack Obama described his vice president pick as independent, ready to be president if needed, and strong on the economy, but he still has not identified his choice.
Meanwhile, the Democrat heaped new criticism on his Republican rival John McCain in a push to blunt attacks that have narrowed his lead in the polls. Obama on Thursday chided McCain for an interview in which he said he did not know how many homes he owns, and he branded the Republican as rich, out-of-touch with voters and touting inflated foreign policy credentials.
Obama planned to disclose his running mate choice by unleashing text messages to supporters, perhaps as early as Friday. He is scheduled to appear with his No. 2 Saturday at a massive rally in his home state of Illinois and undertake a tour of battleground states before the Democratic National Convention starts Monday in Denver.
While Obama has remained tight-lipped about his selection, the field of candidates appears to have been narrowed down to four: Govs. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Tim Kaine of Virginia, Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Sen. Joe Biden _ the Senate's top Democratic foreign policy expert. An announcement is expected to be made in a text message to supporters sometime before the Saturday event.
"I've made the selection, that's all you're gonna get," Obama told reporters while campaigning in Virginia on Thursday.
In a TV interview with CBS aired Friday morning, Obama outlined his criteria for his running mate: "Obviously, the most important question is: Is this person ready to be president?"
"The second most important question, at least from my perspective, is: Can this person help me govern?" Obama said. "Are they going to be an effective partner in creating ... economic opportunity here at home and guiding us through some dangerous waters internationally?"
Obama said he also wanted someone who would show independence. "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," he said.
On the Republican side, party officials said late Thursday that McCain has not settled on a running mate, although former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty were under serious consideration. Two officials close to Romney said he had not been offered the job.
The Republicans hold their national convention in St. Paul, Minnesota starting Sept. 1.
Democratic and Republican officials said both candidates were capable of making wild card picks that would surprise their backers.
Speculation surrounding Obama's choice reflects questions about how he will overcome a battering by McCain, who has repeatedly pointed to what he says is Obama's inexperience in national security and foreign policy matters as evidence that the 47-year-old candidate is ill-equipped to be president.
Expectations are that his selection for vice president would somehow reflect that. Over the past couple of days, that attention was directed at Biden _ a 33-year-member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee whose nomination could blunt some of McCain's criticism about Obama's international affairs experience.
But Biden, 65, although outspoken and not one to duck from attacks by Republicans, is not among those who Obama supporters would view as a Washington outsider. He has been in the Senate since 1972 _ when Obama was about 11 years old.
The Delaware senator is staying uncharacteristically quiet in the face of growing attention.
The need for a careful selection for the vice presidency comes as McCain has largely erased Obama's lead in the polls.
To counter the perception that his campaign has stalled, Obama has stepped up his attacks even as some supporters worry that someone who campaigned on themes of hope and change can be aggressive enough.
After being introduced Thursday at a rally in Richmond, Virginia, by Kaine, Obama criticized McCain for not being able to answer a question about how many homes he owns during an interview. McCain's wife, Cindy, is an heiress to a large beer distributorship and her wealth is estimated to be at least $100 million.
"If you're like me, and you've got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don't lose their home, you might have a different perspective," Obama said.
Obama also struck a defensive tone, saying that despite his limited experience on the national stage, he has shown better judgment on foreign affairs than McCain has.
"I will put my judgment on foreign policy over the last five years against John McCain's anytime. Anytime," Obama said.
McCain has derided Obama's call for a withdrawal timetable as political opportunism aimed at getting himself elected at the cost of losing the war.
Both candidates have unveiled fresh attack advertisements ahead of their back-to-back national conventions.


Updated : 2021-04-18 11:25 GMT+08:00