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Barack Obama wants a running mate to 'challenge' him

August 22, 2008 |  9:28 am

Barack Obama offered up a little insight to Harry Smith this morning on CBS' "Early Show," saying he wants his running mate to bBarack Obama tells Harry Smith of CBS Early Show that he wants a running mate who will challenge him and accuses John McCain of adopting Karl Rove tacticse "a partner" ready to govern and "who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policy-making." (The transcript is after the jump).

Mark that down, and as soon as you get the e-mail alert with the right name, match it up and make your own call -- independent thinker, or acolyte?

What struck us as a little more enlightening -- would you expect Obama to say he wanted Eddie Haskell for vice president? -- were Obama's comments about the negative turn the campaign has taken. The Democrats have been trying to inject Karl Rove, much hated among the base, into the race, and John McCain's hiring of some of Rove's proteges certainly helped that cause.

Obama brought Rove directly into play with Smith:

John McCain likes to characterize himself as a maverick, but the truth is what he's done, particularly over the last month when he shook up his campaign, is he basically hired Karl Rove's old crew and adopted Karl Rove's old tactics, which really had to do with suggesting that I was unpatriotic, suggesting that I would rather win -- that I'd rather lose a war so that I could win an election, just because we have a fundamental disagreement about Iraq. You know, those kinds of attacks are pretty par for the course. So it doesn't anger me, it's what we expected.

Of course, that doesn't address the negative turn in Obama's own campaign, particularly in some of the ads.

To paraphrase The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again.": The new politics, same as the old politics..."

-- Scott Martelle

DATE August 22, 2008                
TIME 7:00-9:00 AM
NETWORK CBS
PROGRAM The Early Show
HARRY SMITH, co-host:
Yesterday I sat down with Senator Obama in Chester, Virginia, and asked him, now that he has come to a decision on who his running mate will be, how did he decide?

Senator BARACK OBAMA: Obviously the most important question is, is this person prepared to be president? Second most important question, from my perspective, is can this person help me govern? Are they going to be an effective partner in creating the kind of economic opportunity here at home and guiding us through some dangerous waters internationally? And the third criteria for me, I think, was independence. I want somebody who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policy making.

SMITH: And who is it? I had to ask.

Sen. OBAMA: That's a good shot, but I'm pretty disciplined on this.

SMITH: As you went on vacation and as the primary season came to a close...

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: ...your campaign was somewhat quiet.

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: John McCain ramped up his campaign and a lot of people would suggest he has been able to define you...

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: ...in the last month or so.

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: As a result, the polls have gotten...

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: ...much, much tighter.

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: Has he made you the issue in this campaign?

Sen. OBAMA: Well, I think that's been their intention.

(clip) Senator JOHN McCAIN: Let me be very clear. I am not questioning his patriotism, I am questioning his judgment. I am questioning his judgment.

SMITH: Many of the attacks that have come from John McCain's campaign have been, quite frankly, condescending.

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: Are you surprised by that? Does it anger you?

Sen. OBAMA: I -- it's a little disappointing. I mean, you know, John McCain likes to characterize himself as a maverick, but the truth is what he's done, particularly over the last month when he shook up his campaign, is he basically hired Karl Rove's old crew and adopted Karl Rove's old tactics, which really had to do with suggesting that I was unpatriotic, suggesting that I would rather win -- that I'd rather lose a war so that I could win an election, just because we have a fundamental disagreement about Iraq. You know, those kinds of attacks are pretty par for the course. So it doesn't anger me, it's what we expected.

SMITH: One of the issues that came up is what's rich, what's poor.

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: You made some hay out of what John McCain was talking about...

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: ...being rich. And he was asked by politico.com...

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: ...how many houses he had. You already have an ad...

(clip) TV Announcer: (From political ad) When asked how many houses he owns, McCain lost track.

SMITH: ...saying it's seven and they're worth $13 million.

TV Announcer: (From political ad) And here's one house America can't afford to let John McCain move into.

SMITH: What point are you trying to make?

Sen. OBAMA: Well, the point I'm trying to make is, is that when you say that the economy is fundamentally sound, when you say that we've made great progress economically under George Bush, when one of your top economic advisers suggests that America is a nation of whiners and that it's all in
their head that we're in a recession, that indicates that you're out of touch, you don't get it. And, you know, for John McCain to suggest that I am somehow elitist...

SMITH: Well, he did say...

Sen. OBAMA: ...which he's -- which he's said in the past...

SMITH: He did say, by the way, you made $4 million last year.

Sen. OBAMA: Well, you know, over the last two years. John McCain's been living like this for the last 25 and obviously doesn't have a very clear sense of what ordinary Americans are going through.

SMITH: Let's move on to other stuff. Want to talk about the convention.

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: As you see the convention, it will be successful from your perspective if what?

Sen. OBAMA: I want to make the choice clear to the American people. For the last eight years we've had a particular set of economic policies that have resulted in record foreclosures, high unemployment, high inflation. And so I want the American people to focus on whether or not we can afford to continue those policies for another four or eight years, because that's essentially what John McCain's offering.

SMITH: So many people in the country came to know you...

Sen. OBAMA: Right.

SMITH: ...because of your speech four years ago at the Democratic convention.

(clip) Sen. OBAMA: (From 2004 Democratic National Convention) There is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America...

SMITH: How do you top that, or do you try to top that? Is the speech ready?

Sen. OBAMA: Well, you know, I think it's a different time and a different place, obviously. Four years ago when I spoke, I was speaking as somebody who was in a supportive role to the nominee. Because I was new, I was presenting my version of the American story. This time I'm the nominee. So it's a different role. I'd be lying if I said that I've got it all completely written, but I have a pretty good sense of what I'm going to say. I suspect that that element of surprise that came about four years ago -- nobody had heard of me, and then I come up and I give, you know, a speech that was well received; I think that there's a special moment there that we're not going to recapture. At this point, people know that I can give a speech and, you know, they'll see me coming.

SMITH: My last question is do you know what Michelle is going to wear Monday night?

Sen. OBAMA: You know, there are some things that even I don't know, and what Michelle is going to wear is a tightly held secret, more tightly held than who my vice presidential choice is going to be.

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