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Breaking News: Hillary Clinton hints at joint ticket with Obama

March 5, 2008 |  5:46 am

'DREAM TICKET'? In their first one-on-one debate, at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton mostly stayed jovial, smiling when asked if they might team up in November.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, who some wrote off as all but finished in the race for the Democratic nomination for president, has pulled another surprise out of the hat that we never see her wearing.

The morning after regaining some political momentum by winning three of four primaries (after losing 12 in a row), the former first lady happened to mention on some early news shows the possibility of her and Sen. Barack Obama forming a joint ticket to face the new Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain.

With most political observers sound asleep after a long Tuesday evening that appeared to augur at least seven more weeks of possibly bitter and divisive struggle between the two Democrats until a potentially decisive Pennsylvania primary on April 22, Clinton went on some morning news programs, according to the Associated Press, and appeared to raise the possibility of a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket.

"That may be where this is headed," she said, "but, of course, we have to decide who is on the top of ticket. I think the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me."

It's a clever move to vault herself to the level of equal standing with the Illinois senator, who remains way more than 100 delegates ahead of Clinton in the nomination race. The idea does speak to what many Democrats have long regarded as a dream ticket combining the first serious African American candidate with the first serious female candidate.

And it raises the prospect of a negotiated agreement that would avoid prolonged intra-party strife, while a victorious McCain forges ahead already with his general election campaign.

In the early-morning hours, two top Clinton advisors, Mark Penn and Harold Ickes, released a memo to "Interested Parties," that said: "With last night’s victories in Ohio and Texas, one thing is clear: the momentum has swung back to Hillary Clinton." At least that's what they'd like today's message to be as McCain meets at the White House for lunch and the official blessing of President and Mrs. Bush.

But the joint ticket idea ...

may be more of a nightmare in the mind of Obama and his team, who thought they were about to finish Clinton off Tuesday only to see it slip through their hands and the struggle prolonged.

And Obama remains well ahead in delegates and popular votes, so he'd be unlikely to be interested in such a combination arrangement now, especially if she sees herself in the No. 1 spot with Obama as the No. 2. The proposal could well be an attempt to stall his momentum further.

Later, on the same CBS "Early Show," Obama referred to his delegate total as "close to an insurmountable lead." Clinton had minimized the gap calling it "smidgens of difference."

Plus, to be realistic, whomever is the Democratic vice president on any successful ticket led by the New York senator will actually be forced to work with a pair of Clintons in the White House, making him potentially vice-vice-president.

-- Andrew Malcolm

PHOTO CREDIT: <i>Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times</i>

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