WASHINGTON – Barack Obama is considering former military leaders among his potential choices for vice president, according to a Democratic senator who discussed an extensive list of possible picks with members of the team vetting candidates.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who met with two members of the search team on Tuesday, said there was “more than one” former military leader on a list of “about 20” potential choices the team discussed with him.
Conrad declined to name any of the candidates discussed, though he said they all fit into one of three categories: current top government officials, former top government officials and former military leaders. The Obama campaign has kept a tight lid on the names of candidates it is considering, though Obama has regularly said that former rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., “would be on anybody’s short list.”
A running mate with high-level military credentials would potentially provide reassurance to voters in the face of criticism that Obama’s brief tenure in national office leaves him short of national security experience.
A former military leader also could provide balance on the Democratic side to the compelling personal story of John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam. Such a choice also could bolster the Democratic ticket’s credibility in debating strategy in Iraq, a key point of difference with McCain.
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., who was secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration, has frequently been mentioned as a potential Obama running mate. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who led the war in Kosovo and unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, is a possibility some have suggested.
NBC News reported that retired Gen. James Jones, a former Supreme Allied commander of NATO, is under consideration.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat whom many had identified as a potential Obama running mate, took himself out of consideration in an interview with NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Strickland said he would “absolutely not” accept a spot on the ticket.