Obama's VP Search: Avoiding Party's Past Mistakes Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is searching for a prospective vice president. Selecting and vetting a running mate has proven difficult for Democratic candidates in the past. A look at the list of possible candidates and how Obama may make his decision.

Obama's VP Search: Avoiding Party's Past Mistakes

Obama's VP Search: Avoiding Party's Past Mistakes

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Members of Barack Obama's vice presidential search committee have been busy. This week, they sat down with Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who said they were throwing out some names: "We discussed 15 to 20 people who are possibilities." Clearly, Obama's list is still long, and he hasn't offered any hints.

"The next time you hear from me about the vice presidential selection process will be when I have selected a vice president," he has said.

Journalists have continued to hound Obama, especially about whether he'll choose Hillary Clinton. But so far, all he has said about choosing Clinton is this: "Obviously, she'd be on anybody's short list."

As Obama thinks about all the names on his list, one of his goals is to avoid 1972. That's when Democratic nominee George McGovern called on Tom Eagleton. Unfortunately for the party, it came out after he was named to the ticket that Eagleton had for years undergone electroshock therapy to treat depression. Two weeks later, Eagleton announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy.

Then there was 1984, when Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to run on a major party ticket. What the party didn't know until later is that her husband had some dubious business dealings.

Interestingly, the person who vetted Ferraro for Walter Mondale that year was Jim Johnson. He was doing the same job for Barack Obama — until this week, when he resigned amid reports about his own financial affairs.

Back in 2000, Ron Klaine helped do the VP vetting for Al Gore. Klaine says there's too much focus on a running mate helping a candidate win states or make up for weaknesses.

"People think about this ticket-balancing thing a lot more than the candidates do," he said. "I think candidates are really looking for someone who could help their overall cause in the campaign, who could be a good partner in governing and who could be a good president if they had to step up and do that job."

Whatever Obama is thinking about, he doesn't have that much time, since his primary race lasted so long.

Obama's Possible Running Mates

Placing Geraldine Ferraro on the ticket made history in 1984, but the Democrats lost 49 states that year. hide caption

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Watching Washington

NPR Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving looks at some of the top vice presidential prospects on the Republican side.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich has introduced a bill calling for the impeachment of President Bush, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists the issue is "off the table." hide caption

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Many NYC mayors have thought about running statewide, including Ed Koch in 1982. hide caption

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Forty-five years ago today, Gov. George Wallace stands in the schoolhouse door to prevent two blacks from enrolling at the University of Alabama. hide caption

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