As speculation about Hillary Clinton's vice presidential prospects reached near fever pitch this afternoon, it did so in the complete absence of any prodding, or even recognition, from the camp of presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama.
"We are not in the vice presidential phase here. ... We are not about long lists, short lists or any kind of lists tonight," Obama strategist David Axelrod told the Politico this afternoon.
But the Huffington Post has learned from a source inside the Obama campaign that its VP selection timetable may delay the announcement of a choice well past the next few weeks, into July. According to the source, the campaign sees no obvious upside in picking anyone immediately, including Clinton. The motivation for such a deliberate pace stems from the campaign's desire to get a cleaner look at how they match up with McCain, and what attributes they feel are missing going into the fall -- two judgments the campaign doesn't think it can reach until a few weeks have passed.
TIME's Mark Halperin, though, can imagine a downside:
"[A]ny delay in choosing a running mate will only bring rampant speculation about whether he is going to pick Clinton - and if not, why not - speculation so extreme it might warp and dominate the entire process (and potentially create reams of critical and distracting press for his eventual Veep selection)."
Helping to navigate these concerns will be Valerie Jarrett and longtime party big-shot Jim Johnson -- who headed vice presidential searches for Walter Mondale and John Kerry. This time, however, while Johnson will participate in the vetting process, he will reportedly not be involved in the final decision making, which in turn will only occur after a thorough vetting of all potential picks. According to the Obama camp source, one of the benefits of a deliberate vetting pace is that Sen. Clinton will have ample opportunity to prove her value to the ticket, perhaps by taking aggressive steps to rally her coalition to Obama's side before being guaranteed the No. 2 spot.
If she's successful, Clinton's quick advocacy could seal the deal. Though if she were to prove too successful, too early in this regard, she might also organize herself out of the job that Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw now say she has decided she wants.