Obama meets privately with Clinton

Likely U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama met privately with former rival Hillary Clinton on Thursday night, an Obama campaign spokesman said.

Obama meets privately with Clinton
"They did meet tonight," Robert Gibbs, Obama's communications director, told reporters in response to media reports about the session.

Gibbs said reports they met at Clinton's home in Washington were incorrect. He declined to disclose the location or details of what they discussed.

He spoke on the Obama campaign plane traveling to Chicago. Obama had been scheduled to fly back to that city on Thursday evening after a rally in northern Virginia but stayed behind for the meeting with Clinton, shedding his campaign plane and the traveling press corps.

CNN reported the Obama-Clinton session was "a small meeting" with perhaps just the two senators and a few aides in attendance.

The New York Times said the meeting with Obama was initiated by Clinton after a daylong series of talks between their aides.

There is intense speculation Obama might pick Clinton as his running mate for November's presidential election against Republican John McCain.

Obama, an Illinois senator, clinched the Democratic nomination on Tuesday. Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, did not immediately concede but told supporters in a letter she would formally back Obama on Saturday.

Not pushing for vice presidency

Hillary Clinton distanced herself on Thursday from a push to convince former Democratic rival Barack Obama to choose her as his running mate and said the decision on a vice president was his alone to make.

As Obama enjoyed his first campaign swing as the likely Democratic presidential nominee, some prominent supporters of Clinton have launched an effort to pressure him to invite her to join his ticket as the No. 2 in the general election battle against Republican John McCain.

Critics of Clinton have accused her of trying to force her way on to the ticket. An aide to the New York senator issued a statement trying to dispel that impression.

"While Sen. 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," said spokesman Phil Singer. "The choice here is Senator Obama's and his alone."

Backers of an Obama-Clinton ticket believe it would be the best way to unify the Democratic Party after the hard-fought, 16-month race between the candidates.

Obama made history on Tuesday when he became the first black to win a U.S. major-party presidential nomination. Clinton would have been the first woman to do so.

Obama has not tipped his hand about whom he might pick as his running mate and when asked publicly about the option of choosing Clinton, he has praised her but emphasized his selection process would be deliberative and wide-ranging.

Clinton was seen as having promoted the idea of her becoming the vice presidential nominee when she told supporters in a conference call on Tuesday that she would be "open" to it if it would help her party win the White House.

Obama told reporters he appreciated the statement from Clinton's aide deferring to him on the running mate choice.

The Illinois senator noted Clinton had been involved in the selection process before when her husband, former President Bill Clinton, chose Al Gore as his running mate in 1992.

"We are going to to be equally deliberative in how we move forward," Obama said as he traveled in Virginia, which is expected to be a battleground state in the campaign for the November general election.

Jim Webb

Obama has made clear he wants to maintain the utmost secrecy around his vice presidential deliberations until he is ready to make an announcement.

That did not stop him from sharing the media spotlight with someone cited frequently by pundits as a potential running mate: Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.

Webb, who had remained neutral as Obama and Clinton battled for the nomination, gave the Illinois senator an emphatic endorsement as he introduced him at a rally of 10,000 people in northern Virginia.

He referred to the ups and downs Obama faced in the long fight to secure the nomination. In the final few months of the race, Obama was battling daily attacks from both Clinton and McCain.

"I'm honored to stand alongside this man, a man of great intellect who over the past 16 months has impressed all of us as he stood up to sometimes withering attacks with measured responses, unshakable composure," Webb said.

The decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War said Obama "has given all of us confidence in the steadiness that we want to see in a commander in chief."

Obama used his Virginia speech to look ahead to the November race against McCain. He said he hoped they could have a respectful debate about policy issues and keep the campaign from getting bogged down by "name-calling" and "scandal-mongering."

The Illinois senator told McCain of that wish when the presumptive Republican nominee called Obama to congratulate him on Wednesday.

"I said that I was looking forward to a civil, substantive debate on the issues. And he agreed," Obama said, adding they discussed McCain's idea of appearing jointly at town-hall style forums. Obama's campaign has said it is open to such formats and the two camps are exchanging views on options.

But Obama did not hold back from attacking McCain. At an event in southwestern Virginia earlier in the day, Obama likened his Republican rival's health care proposals to those of the unpopular President George W. Bush. He said McCain's ideas amounted to "Bush light."

McCain's campaign hit back, deriding Obama's attempts to cast himself as someone who could rise above party divisions.

"Barack Obama has no record of bipartisan success," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, adding Obama had voted "in lock-step with his party on issues from tax relief to funding of the Iraq war.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Haziran 2008, 15:43
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