Charles Gibson Interviews Barack Obama

And there was a feeling in my gut that not only were the American people ready for change, but that this country is a decent, generous place, and that people are going to make decisions based on who they think can actually lead, and that we're not in the same America that we were when I was born in 1961, that we've traveled a very long way. And I think that, you know, the outcome last night indicates how far we've traveled.

GIBSON: You don't get much time to enjoy this before people immediately start talking about the vice presidency.

(LAUGHTER)

On what criteria and what timetable will you choose a vice president?

OBAMA: Well, we have a committee that is going to be meeting with party leaders, is going to be working through lists of names. It will be a deliberate process.

You know, my charge is to cast a wide net. I will narrow it down. I will meet with a range of individuals and get my sense of whether they share a vision for where the country needs to go and whether they can provide me with the independent counsel and possess the integrity that I think are necessary for the presidency.

GIBSON: But there obviously is one name that looms over all. Hillary Clinton has already, to some extent, expressed her willingness. There are supporters putting out petitions. There is a drumbeat of pressure. There are those 18 million votes.

Is she a special case that you have to deal with before the others, or is she considered just like everybody else? How long can you let the "Hillary Clinton on the ticket" question linger?

OBAMA: Oh, I think Senator Clinton is a special case as a candidate. I mean, she's somebody who traveled this journey with me. She was extraordinarily capable and tenacious. I mean, she is just a great candidate. And she has really proven, not only to be an inspiring figure for women, but I think for people all across the country. So, yes, she's a special case. I think it's very important for me to meet with her and talk to her about how we move this party forward.

But I also believe that it's very important for me to, when it comes to choosing a vice president, to do it in a deliberative way.

GIBSON: Does there have to be a yes or no on the issue of Hillary Clinton before you get to the others, or can this issue linger on, because it pervades everything?

You want to move on to the general election. You want to pivot to a campaign against John McCain.

Can you do that while this question hovers over you?

OBAMA: You know, I am absolutely confident that Senator Clinton loves this country; she loves this party. She wants to win in November. And so, I'm confident that she and I are going to be unified in November.

In terms of the narrow question of the vice presidency, I'm going to do it in a deliberative way because I think that's one of those questions you want to get right, as opposed to get fast.

GIBSON: So, you won't do -- you won't deal with her first, get that out of the way, and then either move on or not?

OBAMA: You know, I'm going to have a conversation with Senator Clinton about how we can move the country forward. I don't, by the way, tend to -- no insult here, but -- do a lot of things through the press.

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