Obama says he has picked running mate

Associated Press And Globe Staff / August 22, 2008
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EMPORIA, Va. - Barack Obama said yesterday he has chosen his running mate, but he refused to say whether he had notified his pick or when exactly he would send cellphones buzzing with the answer delivered via text message.

"I won't comment on anything else until I introduce our running mate to the world," he told USA Today in Chester, Va. "That's all you're going to get out of me."

Obama said it was a difficult decision because "we had some great choices." He also told the newspaper he wanted somebody who is "prepared to be president," and "somebody who's independent, somebody who can push against my preconceived notions and challenge me so we have got a robust debate in the White House."

Obama planned to appear with his pick at a rally tomorrow at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., where he launched his presidential campaign in February 2007. Obama then planned to travel to the battleground states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Montana before arriving in Denver to accept his party's nomination Thursday.

The Illinois senator was widely thought to be considering Senators Joseph R. Biden of Delaware and Evan Bayh of Indiana, along with Governors Tim Kaine of Virginia and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.

Obama spent part of yesterday with Kaine, meeting privately for 15 minutes at a Richmond hotel and appearing together at a discussion with voters on the economy.

But ABC News noted that later Kaine seemed to talk about his vice presidential prospects in the past tense.

"I've always thought it seemed a bit unlikely, but I'm not going to tell you it hadn't been fun," he said. "It's been nice to be mentioned."

Sebelius, campaigning for Obama in Iowa, said being mentioned as a potential running mate is something of "an out-of-body experience."

"Whoever it is, I am an enthusiastic supporter," she said.

It's possible Obama could make a surprise selection, though at least one of the dark horse candidates appeared out of the running. Former Georgia senator Sam Nunn's spokesman said he was be traveling out of the country on international business until Monday, which makes a visit to Springfield tomorrow seem unlikely.

New polls out this week showing that Obama is neck-and-neck with GOP rival John McCain, and that he still has yet to win over some supporters of Democratic primary rival Hillary Clinton sparked fresh speculation about Clinton as a running mate. But Clinton, who stumped for Obama yesterday in Florida, had other plans for the weekend: the New York State Fair today and the United Farm Workers of America Sunday in California.

The waiting game and speculation has reached the point that people are sending phony text messages about Obama's pick.

Alice Marwick, a 31-year-old graduate student in Manhattan, was among those to sign up with Obama's campaign for the VP alert. And on Wednesday she got a text message that set her heart aflutter. "Thank you for your support," it said. "Barack wants you to know he has chosen Hillary Clinton as his VP."

The "from" number matched the number the campaign had given out. But after sharing an excited phone call, she and her boyfriend started searching online and couldn't find a news report anywhere confirming the pick.

While the text message gimmick seemed a way for the Obama campaign to further connect with younger voters, the hoaxes have shown how easy it is to hijack new technology, said Marwick, who studies new media as a doctoral candidate at New York University.

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