Texas Congressman possible Obama pick

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by Chief, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. Chief

    Chief "Friggin Joke Monkey"

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    With the hours dwindling before he is expected to make a public appearance with his chosen running mate, Barack Obama readied an announcement by text message Friday in which he would tell his supporters exactly who that person would be. And the tension was heightened by the sudden addition of a dark horse from Texas to the “short list” of Obama’s finalists .

    The soon-to-be Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign has managed to keep a tight veil of secrecy over the decision as media and delegates start traveling to Denver for a four-day extravaganza that will end with an acceptance speech by the first black presidential nominee of a major party.

    As the suspense built, a new name — Texas Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards — entered into the buzz of short-listers who could become Obama’s running mate.

    Democratic officials told The Associated Press Friday that Edwards’ background was checked by Obama’s campaign, and he was a finalist for the job.

    Asked about the recent talk, Edwards’ spokesman on Capitol Hill said: “All questions about the VP selection should be directed to the Obama campaign.”

    Meanwhile, many eyes were also on other contenders, including Govs. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Evan Bayh of Indiana. They, too, were keeping any news under wraps.

    “It’ll be exciting news,” Sebelius told reporters in Kansas.

    The Obama campaign has said it would notify supporters about his choice in an e-mail message. He and his running mate were expected to appear together on Saturday in Springfield, Ill.

    Obama, keeping his decision to himself, went to the gym for a morning workout Friday before heading to an office in Chicago to polish the acceptance speech he will deliver next Thursday night.

    Asked about his choice, Obama told CBS in an interview that aired Friday morning that the person he vets must be prepared to be president.

    “Obviously, the most important question is: Is this person ready to be president? The second most important question from my perspective is, can this person help me govern? Are they going to be an effective partner in creating the kind of economic opportunity here at home and guiding us through some dangerous waters internationally? And, the third criteria for me, I think, was independence. I want somebody who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policymaking,” Obama said without naming his selection.

    Politico Web site reported Friday that New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is not among the candidates on the short list.

    “She was never vetted,” a Democratic official told Politico. “She was not asked for a single piece of paper. She and Senator Obama have never had a single conversation about it. How would he know if she’d take it?”

    The official said Clinton never met with Obama’s vice presidential search team of Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy, nor was she asked for medical records or any financial 2008 information about her or former President Bill Clinton. The last information the couple has disclosed about taxes and financial holdings was for 2007.

    Clinton’s name will be submitted for nomination at the Democratic convention next week, a concession Obama’s camp approved to sow some good will with her supporters.

    Among those believed in the running, Edwards, Biden and Bayh fit the mold of running mate with experience in defense or foreign policy — areas in which Obama performs relatively poorly in the polls compared with presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.

    There was no shortage of other speculation, ranging from: GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who traveled with Obama to Iraq and Afghanistan; Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, or Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut.

    But Edwards’ name added a new edge to the excitement as producers covering President Bush while he vacationed at his Crawford ranch scrambled to send cameras to Waco, Texas, from where Edwards, Bush’s representative in Congress, would depart if he were to fly anywhere.

    Hundreds of miles to the northwest, carpenters, electricians, sound stage gurus and others transformed the Pepsi Center in Denver into a made-for-television convention venue.

    Tucked away in one corner were thousands of lightweight rolled cardboard handles, meant to allow delegates to wave signs bearing the names of the ticket — once the identity of Obama’s running mate was known.

    Edwards, a nine-term congressman from Corpus Christi who serves on the House Appropriations and Budget committees, is a favorite of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who went on ABC’s “This Week” and said, “I hope he will be the nominee.”

    Asked about Pelosi’s frequent praise, Edwards said in July that he “cannot imagine that many Americans would not consider it a privilege” to be considered a vice presidential contender.

    One Democratic official with knowledge of the conversation said Obama told Pelosi recently that she would be pleased with the choice. Other Democratic officials said he was on the short list. All spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Obama’s selection process.

    Among the other potential choices, Biden was at home in Delaware, Kaine helped his son move into college housing in Washington and Bayh attended tennis camp with one of his children.

    An Edwards pick is by no means assured. House candidates are notoriously ignored for the running-mate slot. Gerald Ford was the last sitting House member to graduate to the vice presidency. And the last congressman to be directly elected to that job was House Speaker John Nance Garner, D-Texas, under President Franklin Roosevelt.

    But Edwards is a survivor. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, D-Texas, tried to marginalize Edwards’ electability when he redrew the state’s congressional boundaries several years ago. DeLay infused more GOP voters into Edwards’ territory. But the congressman held on.

    Bush carried Edwards’ district in 2004 with 69 percent of the vote, but Edwards still garnered 58 percent.

    On Capitol Hill, Edwards is known as a “Cardinal,” one of the most powerful people in Congress. They command that designation when they chair a powerful appropriations subcommittee, because they hold such eminence over the federal purse strings.

    Edwards presides over the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs panel. And from that post, he decides how much money to fork out to any given program. Right down to the nickel.

    As a moderate from the South, he is seen by some Democrats as someone who could counterweight the liberal Obama.

    Elsewhere, speculation was building over McCain’s plan. Several GOP officials said Friday that McCain had not settled on a running mate — nor offered the job to anyone — although former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty were under serious consideration. It’s likely McCain will wait to see who Obama selects before picking his running mate.

    Officials said the campaign also was preparing for an “unconventional” nominee, an indication that oft-mentioned former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, an abortion-rights supporter, or Connecticut Democrat-turned-independent Joe Lieberman still could be in the running. That category also could include non-politicians who McCain deeply admires, such as Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

    Two officials close to Romney said he had not been offered the job. Pawlenty batted away questions Friday in a CNN interview, saying, “I’m sure he’ll make a wonderful choice for our party and for our country and we’ll just have to wait until next Friday to find out the answer to those questions.”

    The GOP convention begins Sept. 1 in St. Paul, Minn.

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