Obama rejects Clinton’s offer to make him vice president

March 11th, 2008 - 10:53 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 11 (IANS) Democrat Barack Obama has shot down his rival Hillary Clinton’s offer of the second slot on her ticket, accusing her of attempting to “hoodwink” and “bamboozle” voters into thinking she was the front-runner. Clinton, vying to be America’s first woman president and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have both suggested that Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, was not seasoned enough to be president but might make a good vice presidential candidate on a ticket topped by Clinton.

On the eve of Mississippi’s primary Tuesday, Obama, at a rally in Columbus, Mississippi, belittled the attempt by Clinton to portray herself as the top Democrat and said he is not running for vice president. Though he did not rule out the prospect, Obama made clear he was not interested.

“First of all, with all due respect, I’ve won twice as many states as Senator Clinton, I’ve won more of the popular vote than Senator Clinton, I have more delegates than Senator Clinton,” he said. “So I don’t know how somebody who’s in second place is offering the vice presidency to the person who’s in first place.”

Calling Clinton’s tactics an attempt “to bamboozle you, to hoodwink you”, Obama said voters have to make a choice.

Obama, who hopes to be the first black US chief executive, is heavily favoured in Tuesday’s Mississippi contest, the next showdown in their bitter fight for Democratic presidential nomination, with 33 pledged delegates at stake.

With black voters who have backed Obama heavily accounting for more than half the Democratic primary voters in Mississippi, he may further widen his almost insurmountable 110-delegate lead over Clinton.

The Clinton campaign is working hard to keep Obama’s margins from becoming a landslide. Husband Bill and daughter Chelsea stumped in Mississippi over the weekend and Clinton campaigned there last week.

But neither Obama nor Clinton is likely to reach the 2,025 delegates needed to clinch the nomination without help from 796 super delegates - party officials and present and current public office holders free to back any candidate.

The two campaigns are also debating how to organise and finance ‘do-over’ elections for Michigan and Florida, which violated Democratic National Committee rules by holding early primaries.

Two Democratic governors who support Clinton - Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey and Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania - said Sunday that they stand ready to raise half of the estimated $30 million needed for new Florida and Michigan primaries, while DNC Chairman Howard Dean and others called for less expensive mail-in voting.

The next big showdown after Mississippi will be in Pennsylvania, which votes April 22 and offers 158 delegates.

Calling Clinton “a formidable opponent”, and “tenacious”, Obama termed the Clinton tactic as “gamesmanship”, saying that if he was ready to be vice president - one heartbeat away from the presidency - he was also qualified to be president.

“I want everybody to be absolutely clear,” he said. “I’m not running for vice president. I’m running for president of the United States. I’m running to be commander in chief.”

Referring to the ‘red phone’ ad that Clinton ran 10 days ago questioning his experience, Obama said he represents “a clean break from George Bush” whereas Clinton does not.

“She has gone along with many of the conventional ways of thinking on foreign policy that have gotten us into trouble,” he said.

As Obama rejected the idea of a joint ticket with rival Clinton, the former first lady’s chief spokesman Howard Wolfson declared Monday that Clinton does not consider Obama qualified to be vice president.

Still, Wolfson said Clinton would not “rule out” Obama as a potential vice president in the event he is somehow able to prove he meets the test to be commander-in-chief in the five months between now and the August Democratic National Convention.

Meanwhile, the dramatic fall of New York’s Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer, a Clinton supporter, with reports of his being involved in a prostitution ring sent shock waves through the party.

Spitzer publicly apologized to his family Monday after The New York Times reported that the governor was caught on a federal wiretap “arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month”.

Clinton said she did not want to comment on the situation except to offer her “best wishes” for Spitzer and his family. Clinton twice said she did not have a comment when asked directly for one, according to reports, saying she wanted to “see how things develop”.

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