Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) met privately for 15 minutes Thursday morning at the Omni Richmond hotel with the staff of one of his top two or three prospects for running mate, Gov. Tim Kaine.
Margaret Talev of McClatchy Newspapers, the pool reporter from the Obama press corps, reports that she asked the governor whether Obama has asked him to be his running mate.
Kaine replied: "I'm going to let the campaign speak for the campaign." Talev reports that he also declined to comment when she asked if he would rule it out.
Talev asked him what he and Obama talked about for an hour. Kaine answered: "He visited with my staff just to basically say hi to them and thank them for all their hard work."
Obama also took a photo with Kaine's staff. A thank-you, or a getting-to-know you?
Obama isn’t expected to make his announcement today. But Friday or early Saturday, the eagerly awaited text messages and e-mails will go to supporters ahead of the ticket’s dramatic appearance at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. on Saturday.
Republican sources say Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has not decided. That'll be among the topics he discusses with advisers at his cabin in Sedona, Ariz., while he's off the trail for the next few days. But he's not scheduled to make his announcement until a week from Friday, the day after Obama accepts the nomination before a Denver crowd of as much as 70,000.
ALSO DRIVING THE VEEP CONVERSATION:
Whether he’s “the guy” or not, Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden continues to enjoy teasing the press.
“Desperate for news, a growing contingent of reporters and cameramen gathered at the end of the Delaware Senator’s driveway descended upon Biden’s truck as he returned from a trip to drop off dead wood at a local repository.
“‘A successful dump!’ Biden proclaimed when asked if he had anything to report…‘I got a second load, anybody that wants to help me and load let me know.’”
Undignified? Perhaps. But perhaps also just part of the senator’s regular-guy demeanor.
AP’s Nedra Pickler finds Biden ahead in the veepstakes buzz and conjectures: “The speculation is less of an indicator of whether Biden will ultimately be Obama's pick, and more of a recognition of the challenges their candidate faces at this pivotal moment in the race.”
Biden’s been prudently paying off his campaign debts lately, reports the Los Angeles Times.
He’s cleaning himself up, too: “Biden’s July expenses included giving refunds of $2,300 to the man known as Mississippi’s best-known attorney, Richard ‘Dickie’ Scruggs, and Scruggs’ son, Zach Scruggs.
“Scruggs, a longtime major donor to Democrats nationally and the brother-in-law of Republican Trent Lott, gained fame wealth by suing asbestos manufacturers and tobacco companies.
“His fortunes turned downward in March when he pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe a judge.”
The Washington Post notes Biden’s son is headed to Iraq – a possible asset to a ticket facing off against a Republican with bulletproof military credentials.
At National Review, Jim Geraghty piles up a short list of unfortunate Biden statements from the last few years – yes, just the last few years – highlighting the loquaciousness that’s also the senator’s top liability.
TIME’s Karen Tumulty parses Obama’s latest answer about what he’s looking for and finds bad news for everyone but Evan Bayh – or a surprise contender.
Speaking of possible surprise contenders, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s looking more like a team player (or political partner?) at the Democratic convention, according to Politico’s Glenn Thrush:
“In an unusual move, Hillary Clinton’s staff is creating a 40-member ‘whip team’ at th Denver Democratic Convention to ensure that her supporters don’t engage in embarrassing anti-Obama demonstrations during the floor vote on her nomination, according to people familiar with the planning.”
If you’re in Boca, tickets are still available for Clinton’s appearance there.
Clinton’s not the only veep contender behaving herself this week: Democratic vice presidential hopefuls of the gubernatorial persuasion seem to be following a similar strategy by laying low and doing their jobs.
On the same day he met with Obama in Richmond, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine toured Fort Monroe and deflected inquiries about his standing in the veepstakes.
“I really don’t want to talk about it,” Kaine told The Virginian-Pilot. “A. I’m here on state business. B. I don’t want to talk politics in a military base.”
Very professional, governor.
Kathleen Sebelius also turned her attention to some of the dry work of governing, helping initiate a reexamination of her home state’s transportation infrastructure.
The Topeka Capital-Journal had Sebelius taking a very Kaine-like tack in response to questions about the vice presidency:
“Before a community covenant signing on the Fort Riley base today, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius again brushed aside questions about her possible nomination as a vice presidential candidate.
“Standing nearby, however, U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, said, ‘I think she’d make a great vice president.’”
Today Sebelius is in Iowa, campaigning on Obama’s behalf, according to the Des Moines Register.
Nancy Boyda’s not the only Democratic pol who’s speaking up even as the potential running mates try to stay cool.
Among the other prognosticators/endorsers: West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, who says it’s gonna be Kaine, and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who’s hoping for Clinton or Biden.
One of those guys is going to be disappointed pretty soon.
Bill Richardson also kept his head in state government, ending up somewhat disappointed with his legislature’s special session, which earlier looked like it might produce potentially ticket-boosting legislation on healthcare and taxation.
Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh had a slightly goofier day, dropping an athletic bag returning his sons from sports camp, in an exchange captured by an impressively stalker-ish ABC reporter.
The GOP unveiled its list of convention speakers, featuring supposed veep contenders Lieberman, Ridge, Palin, Whitman, Fiorina, Romney, Jindal, Pawlenty, and Crist.
Notable: Would the McCain campaign offer the keynote to a pro-abortion rights official like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani if it was also going to tap a pro-Roe candidate for veep?
Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman and Lindsey Graham were in Georgia, with Lieberman taking a firm stance against Russian incursions:
“Lieberman said he and Graham ‘would like to see the United States provide assistance to the Georgian military – self-defense equipment that will help them defend and deter against Russian aggression in the future’ – specifically, anti-aircraft and anti-tank systems.”
Tim Pawlenty got a little international, too, adding the Minnesota imprimatur to the ONE Campaign’s global anti-poverty effort – and suggested he might be headed abroad pretty soon.
AP: “Governor Tim Pawlenty says his administration is considering a state trade mission to Africa before his term expires.
“Pawlenty says the Africa trip is in the early planning stages – so much so that details about countries he would visit and focus he would put on the travel are up in the air.”
It’s understandable that Pawlenty would want to keep his schedule open this fall, given other commitments that might arise. Also interesting that he’s looking toward 2010, when his term expires, and considerin ways of raising his international profile.
Louisiana’s Gov. Jindal announced that he wouldn’t renew an anti-discrimination order his predecessor put on the books.
WWLTV reports: “The order prohibited various sorts of harassment and discrimination at all state offices, including race, sexual orientation, and political affiliation.
“Gov Jindal says discrimination is already prohibited under state and federal laws, and he doesn’t want to create additional special categories by executive order.”
At the end of a week spent touting his achievements at home, this is a stance that could get Jindal attention from national conservatives.
Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska signed an order helping advance Alaska’s ongoing natural gas line project, says KTUU News.
KTUU: “She thanked both presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama for their ongoing support of the project.”
Worth another look: A Pennsylvania paper reported yesterday that McCain surrogate Carly Fiorina met Monday with Tony Rodham, the brother of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton who’s no stranger to scandal, and other former Clinton supporters.
Interesting that Fiorina’s trusted to undertake this kind of sensitive mission – but isn’t this a little cloak-and-dagger for a running mate?
Politico’s Kenneth P. Vogel contributed to this report.