- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2008

Funeral duty is not something that Sen. Barack Obama’s vice president need worry much about, the presumptive Democratic nominee says.

Mr. Obama refused again and again during an interview that aired Sunday to give hints on whom he might pick for a running mate, but he did describe the qualities he’s looking for. Shyness and blind loyalty are not among them.

“I’m going to want somebody with independence, who’s willing to tell me where he thinks or she thinks I’m wrong,” Mr. Obama said in an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Whoever the Obama running mate turns out to be, that person would have more than a ceremonial role should the Democratic ticket win in November, according to the candidate.

“We’re going to have a lot of problems and a lot of work to do, and I’m not interested in a vice president who I just send off to go to funerals,” the Illinois senator said.

Every successful Democratic presidential ticket since the death of Franklin Roosevelt has had at least one Southerner, a geographic credential that some Republicans say proved troublesome for them.

Mr. Obama would not bite on questions about whether he would continue that trend. He did say he wants someone who can complement him in the sense “that provide a knowledge base or an area of, of expertise that can be useful.”

The only person Mr. Obama would acknowledge is on his shortlist of running mates includes Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

“This one I can actually answer, because I’ve said consistently that I think Hillary Clinton would be on anybody’s shortlist,” Mr. Obama said. “She is one of the most effective, intelligent, courageous leaders that we have in the Democratic Party.”

Even if it meant Bill Clinton, a volatile presence during his wife’s primary campaign, as a surrogate day in and day out?

“I would love to have Bill Clinton campaigning for me,” Mr. Obama said. “He was very effective when it came to our primary, you know. He was traveling to little towns in Texas and Ohio, and it was very hard to keep up.”

Others were also asked about their status as a running mate during Sunday’s talk-show rounds, including the two senators that traveled with Mr. Obama to the Middle East last week. Both downplayed the possibilities.

“No one has talked to me about it. I fully expect that Barack Obama will choose someone in his own party,” said Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who has been the foremost Republican critic of the war in Iraq.

“I’ve thought about this, and I am very committed and very dedicated to pursuing a career in the United States Senate,” said Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat.

But Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, didn’t brush off the prospect. She said she thought that just about anybody in Washington would be thrilled to be asked to be vice president.

“I would like to meet somebody who wouldn’t,” she said. “If they’re saying they wouldn’t, I don’t think that they are being as candid or as upfront with the American people as probably they should be.”

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