Clinton says she's open to being Obama's VP
Clinton says she's open to being Obama's VP
By BETH FOUHY and DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press
Writers 2 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton told colleagues
Tuesday she would consider joining Barack Obama as his
running mate, and advisers said she was withholding a
formal departure from the race partly to use her
remaining leverage to press for a spot on the ticket.
On a conference call with other New York lawmakers,
Clinton, a New York senator, said she was willing to
become Obama's vice presidential nominee if it would
help Democrats win the White House, according to a
participant who spoke on condition of anonymity
because this person was not authorized to speak for
Clinton's remarks came in response to a question from
Democratic Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who said she believed
the best way for Obama to win key voting blocs,
including Hispanics, would be for him to choose
Clinton as his running mate.
"I am open to it," Clinton replied, if it would help
the party's prospects in November.
Clinton also told colleagues the delegate math was not
there for her to overtake Obama, but that she wanted
to take time to determine how to leave the race in a
way that would best help Democrats.
"I deserve some time to get this right," she said,
even as the other lawmakers forcefully argued for her
to press Obama to choose her as his running mate.
Joseph Crowley, a Queens Democrat who participated in
the call, said her answer "left open the possibility
that she would do anything that she can to contribute
toward a Democratic victory in November. There was no
hedging on that. Whatever she can do to contribute,
she was willing to do."
Another person on the call, Rep. Jose Serrano of New
York City, said her answer was "just what I was hoping
to hear. ... Of course she was interested in being
president, but she's just as interested in making sure
Democrats get elected in November."
Rep. Charles Rangel, a devoted booster of Clinton who
helped pave the way for her successful Senate
campaign, said he spoke to her Tuesday and got much
the same answer.
"She's run a great campaign and even though she'll be
a great senator, she has a lot of followers that
obviously Obama doesn't have, and clearly the numbers
are against her and so I think they bring all parts of
the Democratic Party together and then some," Rangel
Aides to the Illinois senator said he and Clinton had
not spoken about the prospects of her joining the
Obama effectively sewed up the 2,118 delegates needed
to win the nomination Tuesday, based on a tally of
pledged delegates, superdelegates who have declared
their preference, and another 18 superdelegates who
have confirmed their intentions to The Associated
Press. It also included five delegates Obama was
guaranteed as long as he gained 15 percent of the vote
in South Dakota and Montana later in the day.
Word of Clinton's vice presidential musings came as
she prepared to deliver a televised address to
supporters on the final night of the epic primary
season. She was working out final details of the
speech at her Chappaqua, N.Y., home with her husband,
former President Bill Clinton, their daughter Chelsea,
and close aides.
Earlier, on NBC's "Today Show," Clinton campaign
chairman Terry McAuliffe said that once Obama gets the
majority of convention delegates, "I think Hillary
Clinton will congratulate him and call him the
Clinton will pledge to continue to speak out on issues
like health care. But for all intents and purposes,
two senior officials said, her campaign is over.
Most campaign staff will be let go and will be paid
through June 15, said the officials who spoke on
condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to divulge her plans.
The advisers said Clinton has made a strategic
decision to not formally end her campaign, giving her
leverage to negotiate with Obama on various matters
including a possible vice presidential nomination for
her. She also wants to press him on issues he should
focus on in the fall, such as health care.
Universal health care, Clinton's signature issue as
first lady in the 1990s, was a point of dispute
between Obama and the New York senator during their
epic nomination fight.
In a formal statement, the campaign made clear the
limits of how far she would go in Tuesday night's
speech. "Senator Clinton will not concede the
nomination," the statement said.
Clinton field hands who worked in key battlegrounds
said they were told to stand down, without pay, and
await instructions. Speaking not for attribution
because they didn't want to jeopardize their jobs
searches, many said they were peddling resumes,
returning to their hometowns or seeking out former
Clinton officials have said they would not contest the
seating of Michigan delegates at the convention in
Denver this August. The campaign was angry this past
weekend when a Democratic National Committee panel
awarded Obama delegates it thought Clinton deserved.