Dodd Endorses Obama, Rules Out Veepstakes

Dodd tells ABC News he has no interest in the second slot on the ticket.

ByABC News
February 26, 2008, 11:25 AM

Feb. 26, 2008 — -- It's looking more and more likely that Sen. Barack Obama, should he win the Democratic presidential nomination, will be searching for a running mate who can help him overcome any doubts about "the experience issue" but Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., says that he is not up for the job.

Today in Cleveland, Dodd became the first of the original 2008 presidential contenders to endorse Obama. Dodd told ABC News he has no interest in the second slot on the Democratic ticket.

"Who would want to be vice president?" Dodd chuckled. "I'd rather be chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

"It's now the hour to come together," Dodd said, in an appearance with Obama at a news conference in Cleveland. "This is the moment for Democrats and independents and others to come together, to get behind this candidacy."

Dodd said he called Clinton last night to inform her of his decision to endorse Obama ahead of Tuesday night's debate. Dodd described it as an awkward phone call to make.

"She was as gracious as she could be," he said, noting she was "obviously disappointed, maybe even something beyond disappointment," but that she appreciated the call. "I said I didn't want you to hear it from the media, I want you to hear it from me. She said, 'I really appreciate that'."

Dodd said he would never presume to pressure Clinton to step aside, should she lose next Tuesday's primaries in Ohio and Texas, but he expressed his hope that the party will soon rally around Obama as its standard bearer.

As for tonight's debate, the 20th and final scheduled debate in the nominating process, Obama told reporters that he's ready for it.

But he acknowledged the debate format has not always suited him best.

"My staff used to kid me that it took me 60 seconds to clear my throat," he said. "Brevity and succinctness is something I've tried to work on in this debate process, and I think I've gotten better at it."

Obama said he has also come to realize that the debates are as much a conversation with the voters as they are a sparring match between two candidates.