'This Is a Game That Can Be Played'

Vetting the Vetters

Barack Obama was asked Tuesday by ABC's Sunlen Miller how he could "rail against Countrywide Financial Corp as an example of insiders and today's economy while your VP search is headed by someone who got questionable loans from Countrywide?"

"And in addition," Miller continued, "another person on that same VP search team – Eric Holder -- has also been involved in the Marc Rich scandal."

"Well, look," Obama said, "the, the, I mean - first of all I am not vetting my VP search committee for their mortgages, so you're gong to have to direct -- "

"But shouldn't you?" asked Miller.

"Well, no," Obama said. "It becomes sort of a, um, I mean, this is a game that can be played - everybody, you know, who is tangentially related to our campaign, I think, is going to have a whole host of relationships -- I would have to hire the vetter to vet the vetters. I mean, at some point, you know, we just asked people to do their assignments.

ABC's Jake Tapper has more.

McCain Backtracks on Openness to Social Security Tax Hike

McCain hammered Obama on Tuesday for proposing higher Social Security taxes, during an interview with Bloomberg News.

The presumptive Republican nominee neglected to mention, however, that he was open to a similar approach in 2005.

On a Feb., 23, 2005, edition of "Meet the Press," NBC's Tim Russert asked McCain if he would support "as part of the solution to Social Security's solvency problem, that you lift the cap so that you would pay payroll tax, Social Security tax, not just on the first $90,000 of your income, but perhaps even higher?"

"As part of a compromise," said McCain, "I could, and other sacrifices, because we all know that it doesn't add up until we make some very serious and fundamental changes."

Asked about the 2005 remark, a McCain spokesman acknowledged the tension with his current position while arguing that the Arizona senator's criticism of his Democratic rival is still valid because McCain has spoken out against higher Social Security taxes as a 2008 White House hopeful.

"The contrast here couldn't be more clear, and pulling one dated quote out of thousands won't change it," McCain adviser Brian Rogers told ABC News. "John McCain believes we can fix Social Security without raising taxes. Senator Obama has made clear his intention to uncap the payroll tax, raising taxes while failing to restore the program's long-term solvency."

Read more HERE.

Ohio Guv Won't Run with Obama

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) was Shermanesque on Tuesday in saying that he would "absolutely not" be Obama's running mate even if asked to join the Democratic ticket.

Asked on NPR's "All Things Considered" if he is auditioning to be Obama's running mate, Strickland said, "Absolutely not. If drafted I will not run, nominated I will not accept and if elected I will not serve.

So, I don't know how more crystal clear I can be."

Read more HERE.

TiVo alert:

John McCain appears on NBC's "Today."

Democrat Bill Daley and Republican Carly Fiorina appear on ABC's "Good Morning America."

The kicker:

"I'm running out of funny lines."

--John McCain speaking Tuesday to the National Federation of Independent Businesses after being interrupted repeatedly by anti-Iraq war protesters

On the campaign front. . .

BARACK OBAMA

-- 11:00 am ET: Attends town hall meeting, Cedar Rapids, IA.

As for the Republicans. . .

JOHN MCCAIN

-- 11:30 am ET: Attends town hall meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

At the White House. . .

PRESIDENT BUSH

-- 2:55 am ET: Breakfast with the Chancellor of Germany, Meseberg, Germany.

-- 4:00 am ET: Meets with the Chancellor of Germany, Meseberg, Germany.

-- 5:35 am ET: Joint news availability, Meseberg, Germany.

-- 6:10 pm ET: Lunch with the Chancellor of Germany.

VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY

-- 1:00 pm ET: Speaks to U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Washington DC.

FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH

-- 12:30 pm ET: Speaks at a reception, Paris.

POLITICAL NEWS STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf: Parties Point Fingers On Gas Prices Legislation LINK

ABC News' Avni Patel: McCain and Obama Sling Mortgage Mess Mud LINK

ABC News' Teddy Davis, James Gerber, and Gregory Wallace: Obama Economic Advisor Draws Fire LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: And Who's Vetting the McCain Veeps? A Former Lobbyist, Natch LINK

ABC News' Teddy Davis and John Santucci: Ohio Guv Won't Run With Obama LINK

ABC News' David Wright: John McCain: ABBA Fan? LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Democratic Congressman Won't Endorse Obama LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: More On That Obama-Lieberman Talk LINK

ABC News' Sunlen Miller: Obama Admits Smoking Cigarettes In Last Few Months LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: The Insider LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Welcome Back, Carter LINK

POLITICAL VIDEO ON ABCNEWS.COM

Candidates Battle on Economics
Will McCain help only the wealthy? Does Obama want to raise taxes for all? LINK

Obama Smoke-Free for 'Months'
Sen. Obama responds to a question about the last time he "fell off the wagon." LINK

Obama: VP Vetters Aren't 'Working for Me'
Obama brushes off question about VP search team's controversial background. LINK

Obama, McCain Trade Barbs on Taxes
Obama compares McCain tax plan to Bush; McCain targets Obama for raising taxes. LINK

Political Comedy: 'Blue Balled'
Independent filmmakers make movies to support the Democratic Party. LINK

Bush: Iran Potentially 'Dangerous to World Peace'
President asks foreign leaders to help keep Iran from building nuclear weapons. LINK

The End of the Handshake?
Obama's use of the fist pound seems to have taken hold with politicians. LINK http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=5036276

Mapping Out Campaign Strategies
Barack Obama and John McCain pick their target states for the general election. LINK

The First Lady Reflects
Laura Bush talks about foreign policy and the current political race. LINK

Good News for Economy
Fed chairman says the danger of a "substantial" economic downturn has receded. LINK

Playing Favorites
Does The White House favor social programs based on politics? LINK

Who Is Vicki Kennedy?
Meet the woman Ted Kennedy admires most in the world. LINK