Warner, Webb stump with Obama in Va.

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LYNCHBURG, Va. | Sen. Barack Obama offered “no hints” about his choice of running mate Wednesday, but campaigned hard through Virginia with two former contenders to prove he will compete in the state.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is expected to announce his pick for No. 2 within the next few days, and Gov. Tim Kaine remains a strong contender. The two will campaign together Thursday.

Mr. Obama spent much of Wednesday with former Gov. Mark Warner, who took himself out of the running months ago, and Sen. Jim Webb, who said this summer that he wouldn’t want the vice-presidential job.

The two Democrats offered their hearty endorsements for the senator from Illinois, who will formally accept the party nomination next week in Denver.

Pressed by reporters eager for a decision that will be telegraphed first to supporters via text message, Mr. Obama demurred. “No hints,” he said. “No new hints.”

But Mr. Obama praised Mr. Kaine in front of 350 people invited by the campaign and local businesses to see the Warner-Obama town-hall meeting at the Patrick Henry Community College Motorsports Facility.

“As governor, Mark Warner never forgot us; as president, Barack Obama won’t either,” said Brian McGhee, a laid-off worker who introduced the two men in Martinsville.

The former governor - still popular in the economically depressed Southside region for his record of bringing new jobs - introduced Mr. Obama to many of his “friends,” mostly local representatives, at Short Sugar’s BBQ in Danville, where he ordered sandwiches and 2 pounds of pork ribs. He also picked up the tab for two other Short Sugar patrons.

As for the No. 2 spot on the Obama ticket, Mr. Warner said of Mr. Kaine that “I think he’d be a great choice,” because of his “judgment and 20 years of experience in public life at the local level and now as governor.”

He quickly added: “I think he may be the only one who knows; I don’t know.”

At a later event here, Mr. Webb introduced his Senate colleague as “the future president” and alluded to the state’s battleground label.

“We need a new future,” he said. “Virginia may be the key to deciding this race.” His next words were drowned out by sustained thunderous applause.

The Lynchburg high school gym was packed, and not everyone in the long line stretching from the building was able to get inside.

“We wanted to get in everyone but the fire marshal has to do his job,” Mr. Obama told about 200 stuck outside in event overflow.

Mr. Webb said Mr. Obama had demonstrated “unshakable composure” and will make the nation better for working people.

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Christina Bellantoni

Christina Bellantoni is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times in Washington, D.C., a post she took after covering the 2008 Democratic presidential campaigns. She has been with The Times since 2003, covering state and Congressional politics before moving to national political beat for the 2008 campaign. Bellantoni, a San Jose native, graduated from UC Berkeley with ...

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