- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama has added two people to his new vice presidential search team as pressure mounts from Democrats who want him to put his rival on the ticket.

The campaign said Caroline Kennedy and former deputy attorney general Eric Holder will join Jim Johnson on the team, and they are tasked with establishing the process for vetting candidates.

What remains unknown is if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be one of them - though her supporters are openly lobbying for to be offered the No. 2 job.

Obama senior adviser Linda Douglass said Ms. Kennedy is trusted as someone with superior “wisdom and judgment.”

Mr. Holder is a “bright legal and political mind,” she said.

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton spoke briefly at 12:16 a.m. from his campaign plane, hours after he clinched the delegates needed for the Democratic presidential nomination, a threshold she had not recognized in her New York victory speech.

During the call, which took place after they played phone tag through aides, Mr. Obama reiterated he would like to “sit down when it makes sense for you.” The two candidates did not make plans to meet even though they would cross paths for speeches this morning.

Obama and Clinton aides said this morning the Democrats had not spoken again.

Democratic leaders issued a statement this morning, noting “the voters have spoken” during an “exciting” primary season, and urged the final undecided party activists and elected officials known as superdelegates to make their endorsements by Friday.

“Democrats must now turn our full attention to the general election,” read the joint statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Governors Association Chairman Joe Manchin and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean — a release that also did not mention Mr. Obama having reached the 2,118 delegates needed for the party nomination.

“To that end, we are urging all remaining uncommitted super delegates to make their decisions known by Friday of this week so that our party can stand united and begin our march toward reversing the eight years of failed Bush/McCain policies that have weakened our country,” they said. “We once again congratulate all of the candidates for their leadership and dedication to providing this country with a New Direction. We look forward to working with them and with all Democrats to win the White House, congressional seats and state capitals so we can deliver the change the American people deserve and demand.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, who worked in Clinton administration, endorsed Mr. Obama this morning.

Mrs. Clinton last night said she had decisions to make in the coming days, and directed supporters to her Web site to share their views and goals with her.

“Be one of 18 million. Stand with Hillary,” the site banners, next to a form asking for name, e-mail address and ZIP code, and with an optional field for comments.

“I’m with you Hillary, and I am proud of everything we are fighting for,” the petition reads.

“Throughout this campaign, Hillary has always promised to stand up for you. Show Hillary you’re standing with her by making a contribution to our campaign today,” reads a statement to the left of the petition above a “contribute” button. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is carrying significant debt.

On her campaign blog are dozens of anxious pleas for her to stay in the race until the summer nominating convention, when Mr. Obama would officially accept the party nod.

“Hillary, do not give up! Let’s go all the way to the convention! DENVER! DENVER! DENVER!” one supporter wrote in the comments.

Mrs. Clinton left her options open in her speech last night, but took a more final tone in an e-mail to supporters.

“Whatever path I travel next, I promise I will keep faith with you and everyone I have met across this good and great country. There is no possible way to thank you enough for everything you have done throughout this primary season, and you will always be in my heart,” she wrote.

Obama confidants on the plane last night said he demurred when asked if there would be bubbly for a celebration during the flight from St. Paul to Washington.

The senator, leaving the arena where he declared victory and after watching some of the Celtics game, quoted NBA great Magic Johnson (a Clinton supporter) and told his friends and aides that you “don’t cut the net” during the conference finals.

He held court aboard the plane for the two-hour trip but did not speak to reporters. He seemed happy but was not outwardly celebrating.

The Obama team was cheering while acknowledging there is “a lot of hard work” ahead.

“We’re going to celebrate tonight, and we’re going to wake up tomorrow and start all over again,” Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said last night.

The Republican National Committee debuted a Web ad this morning featuring video clips from the primary campaign showing Mrs. Clinton and two former Democratic candidates and former President Clinton questioning Mr. Obama’s experience.

“I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the Commander-In-Chief threshold. And, I believe that I have done that, certainly Senator McCain has done that, and you will have to ask Senator Obama with respect to his candidacy,” Mrs. Clinton says in the video, from March 6 this year.

Both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton will be speaking this morning at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee convention.

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