Obama throws #2 spot in Hillary's faceA great many pundits have been discussing the idea that Barack Obama would be the obvious choice for the Vice Presidency if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, since the Democratic Party has been so fractured this election cycle. It goes beyond saying, I think, that Obama would be the best political choice for Clinton at the top of the ticket. Barack Obama appeared to rule out the option yesterday that Number Two is acceptable to him:
"I don't know how somebody who is in second place is offering the vice presidency to someone who is first place," Obama said, drawing cheers and a standing ovation from about 1,700 people in Columbus, Mississippi.
"I am not running for vice president," Obama said. "I am running for president of the United States of America."
Obama aides said Clinton's recent hints that she might welcome him as her vice presidential candidate appeared meant to diminish him and to attract undecided voters in the remaining primary states by suggesting they can have a "dream ticket."
He told the audience that it made no sense for Clinton to suggest he is not ready to be president and then hint that she might hand him the job that could make him president at a moment's notice.
"If I'm not ready, how is it you think I would be such a great vice president?" he said, as the crowd laughed and cheered loudly.
No one should operate under the illusion that Barack Obama would not take the Vice Presidency were he in a position for it to be offered to him-he very likely would do so for no other reason than that it would set him up to run for the top job when Hillary is finished. However, these comments make it considerably less likely that he might be considered. Why? We know now from John Edwards' own public admission to Chris Matthews some time ago that running for Vice President under John Kerry wasn't something that he particularly enjoyed, and that he wasn't interested in being Vice President. Barack Obama doesn't want to be Vice President, he wants the top job-and if he runs for VEEP, he would be in a position to upstage Hillary Clinton on the stump. It is a normal rule of running for President that you don't pick a running mate who can outdo you or upstage you, and Barack Obama threatens to do that to Hillary Clinton.
Obama is also in the unique position of being able to eschew the Vice Presidency if he wants to because regardless of whether he is nominated by the Democrats, he has run one of the best political campaigns this country has seen in a very long time in terms of raw politics. He does not need the Vice Presidency to make him more marketable in 2012 and 2016, he is already marketable and theoretically can win without it. He has made it clear, however indirectly, that he does not need Hillary Clinton to make him a winner-he appears willing to take this to the Democratic Convention and "fight to the death."