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Obama's Running Mate: Party Unity

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No political endorsement is altruistic. Sure the public figure might honestly believe in the candidate, but there's always more. Maybe it's the headlines and the free media that come along with the public announcement. Or as Jonathan Alter recently suggested, maybe it's about the money. Those who came out for Obama might get access to his massive donor base. And for others, it's the thought of a possible future payback -- such as a political appointment.

Everyone wants to be with a winner, and plenty of high-profile Democrats have seen the writing on the wall. How else to explain Bill Richardson abandoning the Clintons and John Edwards endorsing way after his support would have an impact. Support at this level always has the whisper of a VP slot. But endorsing Obama might actually have the opposite impact this time around.

There has been much talk about the "Dream Ticket" -- having Obama at the top, with Hillary as vice president. I'm not fully convinced that she wants that position. But if Obama really believes the party is divided, it might not be Hillary whom he picks as his number two, but a Hillary supporter and perhaps the stronger the better.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell is still stumping for her more than a month after his state's primary. "I think the message is clear to superdelegates. Hillary Clinton is our most electable candidate, and that's what conventions are all about, finding our most electable candidate," Rendell said on Fox News this week.

Another great example would be Ohio's Ted Strickland. He hasn't been hitting the media as hard as Rendell, but that doesn't mean his support is at all lackluster. He appeared in an ad for Clinton. And the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Strickland made 17 appearances for Clinton before the primary.

And though it's unlikely Obama will choose another senator, he might want to think twice about Indiana's Evan Bayh. If I remember correctly, Bayh was the first one to use the argument that Clinton leads in electoral votes as a reason for her to be the nominee.

So while these are suggestions as to why Clinton might pick such supporters for her VP candidate, they're even more reason why Obama would choose one of them. If he's truly worried about Clinton supporters staying home on Election Day, he'll put her endorsers at the top of his list. Delaware Senator and former presidential candidate Joe Biden only becomes attractive as a VP candidate if Obama believes he doesn't need help uniting the party.

John Edwards says he doesn't want to run for vice president again and by backing Obama, he might have made that wish come true.