'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. . .


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

As for the Republicans. . .

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