Window For Obama VP Pick Seems To Be Closing

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Sen. Barack Obama has appeared with Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), a top candidate for the No. 2 spot. No announcement was made, however. With many Americans shifting focus from politics to the Olympics, the window for an announcement seems to be closing.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

Amid the charges and countercharges between John McCain and Barack Obama, the one piece of presidential campaign news everyone's waiting for is the choice of running mates, the first big decision a presidential nominee makes and perhaps the most significant. But right now, neither nominee seems in any hurry to make it.

Joining us now are NPR's Scott Horsley traveling with Senator McCain in Ohio and NPR's Don Gonyea traveling with Senator Obama in Indiana. And Don, let's start with you. Barack Obama was in a campaign even today there in Indiana with Senator Evan Bayh. That's one name that's come up as a possible vice presidential pick for the Democrat. Anything definite coming out of that meeting?

DON GONYEA: Absolutely nothing definite came out of that meeting. There was a lot of talk, especially in the local press in Indiana, that this could be the day that Senator Obama makes his pick and that it would be Senator Bayh. But we got to a town hall meeting this morning in Elkhart, and sure enough, Senator Bayh was there. He introduced Senator Obama, and then Senator Obama took the stage and he certainly said nice things about Evan Bayh but no mention of a possible vice presidential nomination, not even a joke about all the speculation that's been going on.

Afterward, we talked to Senator Bayh, and he was more than a little coy about what he and Senator Obama had talked about today. Give a listen.

(Soundbite of Senator Evan Bayh's interview)

Senator EVAN BAYH (Democrat, Indiana): Well, we did have a chance to talk a little sports and a little family backstage but that was completely normal, not political.

It's kind of - even politicians can talk about normal stuff, you know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

GONYEA: Even politicians can talk about normal stuff. So he was not revealing anything to us today.

BLOCK: Let's turn to Scott Horsley with the McCain campaign. Scott, any glimmers of an announcement from that campaign?

SCOTT HORSLEY: You know, it's interesting, Melissa. The mystery surrounding the Obama campaign this week was - reminds me of what we were experiencing on the McCain campaign a couple of weeks ago when there was speculation that perhaps John McCain would try to steal some of the thunder of Barack Obama's overseas trip by naming his pick. And fortunetellers were measuring the distance of each stop on the campaign trail to the home or vacation home of one of the shortlist contenders. But there was no announcement that week. And there's no real, I think, suggestion, that there's going to be an announcement this week before we head into the Olympic season.

BLOCK: Scott, I think politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Do you think there's anything that is to be gained by delaying the announcement of a vice presidential pick?

HORSLEY: I think in the case of Senator McCain, he has the opportunity to wait because, of course, the Democrats hold their convention first. And there may be some tactical advantage to him in waiting to see what Senator Obama does and then he can tailor his pick accordingly. Certainly, some of the strategists I've talked to said it would be silly to go first in a case where you don't have to.

BLOCK: Don, let's go back to you. There was a time when running mates were announced at the conventions. Do you think there's any chance that Barack Obama could wait, do it at the convention?

GONYEA: Well, I guess we wouldn't want to rule that out completely. And it certainly would be something that would focus a lot of interest and give people a reason to tune in and watch the convention. But frankly, the Obama campaign thinks there's going to be plenty of excitement at this convention including an acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium in Denver with 75,000 people there.

It is highly likely that he comes up with a running mate and makes the announcement before the convention. But he's off on vacation to Hawaii to visit his elderly grandmother. And then, when he's back, the Olympics will still be going on. They'll have to make the conscious decision that they don't mind competing with the Olympics and whatever's going on in Beijing when they do make the announcement, if it's going to be before the convention.

BLOCK: And the shortlists have been shrinking and expanding and shrinking again. Let's go to the latest likely names. Don Gonyea for Barack Obama, what are you hearing?

GONYEA: Well, certainly, Evan Bayh is in it. Then there's also Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Governor Sebelius of Kansas. But there are certainly names that could come up that we haven't heard yet.

BLOCK: And Scott Horsley, who are you still hearing about with the McCain campaign?

HORSLEY: Lots of names have been bandied about. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's star seemed to be rising a couple of weeks ago. Some people took note this week when Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor spoke for McCain on a conference call. Last week in Denver, there was a front page story on the paper about what a boon Mitt Romney would be to the McCain ticket in the Western states.

BLOCK: Or it could be somebody completely different.

HORSLEY: Absolutely.

BLOCK: Thanks a lot, guys.

GONYEA: Thank you.

BLOCK: That's NPR's Don Gonyea with the Obama campaign in Indiana and also NPR's Scott Horsley with the McCain campaign in Ohio.

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