SNEAK PEEK: Ask Me When We Get to Denver


If you thought the Texas Two Step was tough, it's nothing compared to the dexterity needed to simultaneously paint Barack Obama as unacceptable on national security while tantalizing Democrats with the prospect of what Bill Clinton calls an "unstoppable" Clinton-Obama ticket.

Speaking on a Monday conference call with reporters, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson indicated that Obama has not passed the commander-in-chief test.

"We continue to believe," said Wolfson, "and more importantly others continue to believe, that Sen. Obama has not passed that key commander-in-chief test at this point."

Wolfson also said, however, that there is a long way to go between now and when the Democrats hold their national convention.

"Senator Clinton will not choose any candidate who has not, at the time of choosing, passed the national security threshold, period," said Wolfson. "But we have a long way to go between now and Denver . . ."

Campaigning in Columbus, Miss., Monday, Obama seized on the Clintons' recent veep talk to rebut the charge that he is not ready to be commander-in-chief on Day One.

"If I am not ready," asked Obama, "why do you think I would be such a great vice president?"

Asked in Scranton, Pa., on Monday by ABC's Jake Tapper about mentioning Obama as a possible running mate while also maintaining that he is not ready to be president, Clinton continued to finesse the issue.

"Well, this thing has really been given a life of its own," said Clinton, according to ABC's Eloise Harper. "You know a lot of Democrats like us both and have been very hopeful that they wouldn't have to make a choice, but obviously Democrats have to make a choice and I'm looking forward to getting the nomination and it's premature to talk about whoever might be on whose ticket, but I believe that I am ready to serve on Day One."

In addition to poking holes in the Clinton logic on Monday, Obama also painted the Clintons as presumptuous.

"With all due respect, I have won twice as many states as Sen. Clinton. I've won more of the popular vote than Sen. Clinton. I have more delegates than Sen. Clinton," said Obama. "So I don't know how someone who is in second place is offering the vice presidency to someone who is in first place."

Obama wrapped up his diatribe on the Clintons' veep talk by saying: "I just want everybody to absolutely clear: I am not running for Vice President. I am running to be President of the United States of America."

Now, of course, John Edwards also said he was not running for Vice President before John Kerry put him on the ticket.

But one uncommitted Democratic superdelegate from Pennsylvania who was contacted on Monday by ABC News shared the Obama view that you cannot be painting someone as unacceptable on national security while talking up that same person as a possible running mate.

"It's counterclockwise," said former Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff, 90, a Democratic superdelegate from Pennsylvania. "I don't think it holds water at all."

Masloff, who is not going to endorse anyone before Pennsylvania's April 22nd primary, added that she does not buy the notion that Obama is not ready to be commander-in-chief.

At the same time, she does not think that Obama would agree to be Clinton's No. 2.

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