Obama: If I'm Not Ready, Why Suggest Vice Presidency?

Sen. Obama responded today to the Clinton's repeated suggestions of a joint "dream ticket." Said the senator at an afternoon rally: "I just want everybody to absolutely clear: I am not running for vice president. I am running to be president of the United States of America." He also addressed what some have suggested is the motive underlying the discussion; namely, that Clinton is seeking to convince voters to support her as a means to secure both Dems on a general election ticket.

"So I don't want anybody here thinking that somehow, 'Maybe I can get both.' Don't think that way. You have to make a choice in this election."

He followed up by questioning why Sen. Clinton would suggest a joint ticket while she is currently in second place in pledged delegates and popular vote:

"I won twice as many states as Sen. Clinton. I won more of the popular vote than Sen. Clinton. I have more delegates than Sen. Clinton. So I don't know how someone in second place can offer the vice presidency to someone in first place. If I was in second place I could understand but I am in first place right now."

Going farther than comments in the past, Obama offered a frank explanation: "They are trying to hoodwink you."

Obama also pointed out the tension between suggestions of a joint ticket on the one hand, and Sen. Clinton's suggestions in Texas (notably, the "3AM ad") that Obama is not ready to be commander-in-chief on the other. He referenced a May 1992 comment by-then candidate Bill Clinton, who explained the "most important criteria" for selecting a vice president would be "someone who would be a good president if, God forbid, something happened to me a week after I took office." Airing the statement, Obama then feigned ignorance:

"I don't understand. If I am not ready, why do you think I would be such a great vice president? I don't understand. You can't say he is not ready on day one, then you want him to be your vice president."

The Clinton camp advanced a response to a similar question posed to them during their morning conference call. When asked why Sen. Clinton and her husband were suggesting a joint ticket and saying that Obama had not passed the "commander-in-chief threshold", spokesman Howard Wolfson replied:

"We do not believe that Senator Obama has passed the commander-in-chief test. But there is a long way between now and Denver."...

"Senator Clinton will not choose any candidate who has not at the time of choosing passed the national security threshold. But we have a long way to go until Denver, and it's not something she's prepared to rule out at this point."

Watch an excerpt from Obama's speech: