Tags: Obama | Clinton | Talks

Obama-Clinton Talks Spark Frenzy

Friday, 06 Jun 2008 10:06 AM

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Mystery shrouded secret talks between Democratic presumptive White House nominee Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, which sparked new speculation Friday over her vice presidential prospects.

The senators held a private meeting at an undisclosed location in Washington as the former first lady was due to console staffers and get ready to formally close her once front-running campaign on Saturday.

Obama 's communications director Robert Gibbs said the rivals had both wanted to escape the media glare in their closed-door talks.

"This was a meeting that both candidates had wanted to do and both candidates wanted to do in a very private way," he told CNN.

"They talked about how to come together and how to unify this party and move forward ... and what unites us as a party far exceeds what might divide either of these two candidates."

The former first lady earlier had sought to quash any suggestion that she had launched a new campaign -- to be picked as Obama's vice president after he won their epic battle for the party' White House nomination on Tuesday.

After promising to throw the full weight of her formidable support behind Obama, Clinton disowned a drive by some of her followers to force her onto Obama's ticket.

"She is not seeking the vice presidency, and no one speaks for her but her," said her campaign in a statement. "The choice here is Senator Obama's and his alone."

But Clinton supporter, fellow New York senator Chuck Schumer said Friday she would take the number two spot on the ticket if offered.

"She's done exactly the right thing," Schumer told ABC.

"She said if Senator Obama should want her to be the vice president and thinks it's best for the ticket, she will serve, she will accept that.

"But on the other hand if he chooses someone else, she'll work just as hard for the party in November."

According to The New York Times, Clinton initiated the meeting in Washington after a day of talks between their aides.

Tuesday, as Obama clinched enough delegates to represent the party in November's election, Clinton told New York lawmakers that she was open to the idea of serving as his vice president.

Since then, some of her backers have been lobbying on her behalf, arguing that her support among working-class voters and women would guarantee a November sweep against Republican John McCain.

Noting Clinton's 18 million primary votes and victories in swing states, New York Representative Charlie Rangel told CBS that "we should expect a landslide if they had this dream ticket."

But Obama said he would not be forced into a choice as a three-member team began to vet vice presidential contenders on his behalf.

Interviewed by CNN Thursday, the Illinois senator reiterated a line he used repeatedly on the primary campaign trial: "Senator Clinton would be on anybody's shortlist."

He stressed, however: "What I've also said is, the vice presidency is the most important decision that I'll make before I'm president.

"I'm a big believer in making decisions well, not making them fast and not responding to pressure."

At a rally in Virginia Thursday, Obama paid tribute to Clinton and vowed to unify the party for the general election.

"I know we won't be divided because whatever differences between me and Hillary Clinton, they pale in comparison to the differences we have with the other side," he said.

Following concerted pressure from some of her own backers frustrated at her refusal so far to bow out, Clinton announced she would end her dogged quest to be America's first female president at Saturday's event in Washington.

"I have said throughout the campaign that I would strongly support Senator Obama if he were the Democratic Party's nominee, and I intend to deliver on that promise," she said in a message to supporters.

Copyright © 2008 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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