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Obama ridicules idea of second spot on a Clinton ticket
Clinton 2008 PACK10 4953013
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., greets supporters and signs autographs during a campaign stop at The Forum, Tuesday, March 11,2008, in Harrisburg, Pa. - photo by Associated Press
    COLUMBUS, Miss. — Democrat Barack Obama ridiculed the idea of being Hillary Rodham Clinton’s running mate Monday, saying voters must choose between the two for the top spot on the fall ticket.
    The Illinois senator used his first public appearance of the week to knock down the notion that he might accept the party’s vice presidential nomination. He noted that he has won more states, votes and delegates than Clinton so far.
    ‘‘I don’t know how somebody who is in second place is offering the vice presidency to the person who is first place,’’ Obama said, drawing cheers and a long standing ovation from about 1,700 people.
    Saying he wanted to be ‘‘absolutely clear,’’ he added: ‘‘I don’t want anybody here thinking that somehow, ’Well, you know, maybe I can get both.’ Don’t think that way. You have to make a choice in this election.’’
    ‘‘I am not running for vice president,’’ Obama said. ‘‘I am running for president of the United States of America.’’
    Later, The Associated Press asked Obama if he would ‘‘absolutely close out any possibility’’ of taking the ticket’s second spot. He replied: ‘‘I am not running for vice president, and don’t intend to be the vice president.’’
    Obama aides said Clinton’s recent hints that she might welcome him as her vice presidential candidate appeared meant to diminish him and to attract undecided voters in the remaining primary states by suggesting they can have a ‘‘dream ticket.’’
    Obama had never suggested he might accept a second spot on the ticket. But until Monday he had not ridiculed the notion so directly, even if he did not completely rule it out in Shermanesque terms.
    He told the audience it made no sense for Clinton to suggest he is not ready to be president and then hint that she might hand him the job that could make him president at a moment’s notice.
    ‘‘If I’m not ready, how is it that you think I should be such a great vice president?’’ he said, as the crowd laughed and cheered loudly.
    Mississippi holds it primary Tuesday, the last contest before the Pennsylvania primary in six weeks.
    Clinton and her husband, the former president, recently suggested that a Clinton-Obama ticket would be popular and formidable against Republican Sen. John McCain in November.
    ‘‘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,’’ Clinton said Monday in Scranton, Pa. ‘‘And it’s preliminary to talk about whoever might be on whose ticket.’’
    Many political activists discounted the notion all along. They noted that the two senators lack a warm relationship and, more important, that Obama would be ill-served by hinting he might accept the vice presidential slot when he holds the lead in delegates and hopes to win the presidential nomination.
    In the latest Associated Press count, Obama leads Clinton, 1,579-1,473. He has won 28 contests to her 17.
    Moreover, many insiders feel the ambitious and fast-rising Obama would chafe in the vice president’s job, especially in a White House where Bill Clinton would almost surely play a huge advisory role.
    Still, the notion of a Clinton-Obama ticket has received ample discussion in recent days on cable TV news shows and newspapers such as New York City’s tabloids.
    Of course, his comments Monday will not completely end the speculation. Presidential candidates routinely disavow any interest in the vice presidential spot. But some, including John Edwards and Al Gore, change their minds when they fall short of their top goal.
    At a rally before nearly 9,000 people in Jackson late Monday, Obama painted Clinton as a part of the Washington establishment whose time has come and gone.
    The nation does not need ‘‘the same old folks doing the same old things, talking the same old stuff,’’ he said, essentially lumping Clinton with President Bush and McCain.
    He accused Clinton’s campaign of leaking a photograph of him wearing traditional African garments, including a turban, during a visit to Africa. That was ‘‘straight out of the Republican play book,’’ Obama said. ‘‘That’s not real change.’’
    Clinton has said she is not aware of anyone on her staff leaking the photo.

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