- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama met Thursday evening for their first extended talk since Mr. Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination.

A senior aide to the Obama campaign confirmed the face-to-face meeting to The Washington Times, but did not disclose any details about the encounter, which was thought to be happening in the Washington area.

Late Thursday, the two campaigns issued a joint statement, saying “Senator Clinton and Senator Obama met tonight and had a productive discussion about the important work that needs to be done to suceed in November.”

Mr. Obama has been telling reporters for days that he was looking forward to meeting with Mrs. Clinton - who plans to concede the race Saturday - at a “time and place of her choosing.”

He told reporters in the late afternoon that he still had not had such a private meeting with the senator from New York.

Reporters traveling with Mr. Obama were shocked when the senator did not board his press plane from Washington Dulles International Airport bound for Chicago after his evening rally at the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Va. The campaign had not announced the meeting and spirited away the presumptive nominee when the rally concluded.

Reporters staked out in front of Mrs. Clinton’s home near Embassy Row in Northwest spotted no one entering or departing all day.

The meeting occurred after a barrage of criticism from Democratic elders that Clinton backers were too eager in pursuit of the No. 2 spot on November’s Democratic ticket so soon after Mr. Obama’s making history as the first black person to become a presumptive major-party nominee.

The Clinton campaign tried to quell vice-presidential talk Thursday.

“While Senator Clinton has made clear throughout this process that she will do whatever she can to elect a Democrat to the White House, she is not seeking the vice presidency, and no one speaks for her but her,” campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said. “The choice here is Senator Obama´s and his alone.”

Mrs. Clinton also sent a valedictory e-mail to supporters formally telling them that “I will be speaking on Saturday about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama.”

Mr. Obama also discouraged running-mate speculation Thursday, telling reporters aboard his campaign plane early in the afternoon that his new three-member vice-presidential search committee will do its job carefully and in secret. More importantly, he wants it to be conducted “outside of the day-to-day political pressures that inevitably start up.”

“The next time you hear from me about the vice-presidential selection process will be when I have selected a vice president,” Mr. Obama said. “I intend to do it right and I am not going to do it in the press.”

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