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Bradley says 'no' to Obama VP job. What about Clinton? Not her. Him!

July 29, 2008 |  2:12 am

Just in case you're keeping score, yet another Democratic politician has said he would decline to be the vice presidential running mate of Sen. Barack Obama.

This one was a surprise, too, because, to be honest, not one living soul on the planet had mentioned his name as a possible Democratic VP.

Former NBA star, senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley takes himself out of the vice presidential running with party presidential nominee to be Barack Obama

Not at least until NBC's Andrea Mitchell asked the big veep question on a conference call Monday with Bill Bradley, the former basketball player, former senator from New Jersey and former unsuccessful presidential primary candidate himself.

Bradley took care of that query with his usual long-winded eloquence.

"No," he said.

He joins a growing list of folks who've said modestly, no thank you, in advance of being asked. (Obama wouldn't want a pro showing him up with three-pointers anyway.)

The VP naysayers include Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton during the dogged primary season and chief executive of a crucial state on the electoral map; Virginia's pistol-packing Sen. Jim Webb, a former Reaganite who took himself out of the running before the gun sounded; and Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, who said the vice presidency is "a position I have no interest in."

Of course, saying "no" now protects anyone from being rejected later since they've already said "no," even though they might really mean "call me."

The No. 2 spot on a presidential ticket has been known to be a quickly-acquired interest once the No. 1 on the ticket pops the ...

... question. Witness Obama's cousin, Dick Cheney, who thought he was researching other VP candidates in 2000 when he was really auditioning for George W. Bush.

So, you'll notice, Reed, an ex-Army Ranger who accompanied Obama on the Middle East portion of his recent field trip, did leave himself some wiggle room.

And, frankly, during the dog days of summer when Americans are vacationing, eating hot dogs and donning sunscreen that instantly attracts flecks of grating sand, the vice presidential "mysteries" are about the only thing the politicians and media have going to maintain readers' interest.

Who will it be? Someone as exciting and memorable as Lloyd Bentsen? Or William Miller? Who?

The candidates know this, of course. So they string everyone along as long as possible. Despite the obligatory prodding, Obama was smilingly mum about his VP pick on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, except to say the usual yada-yada about the integrity and intelligence and candor that the running mate must have. As if any nominee would pick a political partner with only a few indictments.

And Obama repeated how the VP wouldn't be doing global funeral duty, even though the VP will be doing global funeral duty.

Think, say, Spiro Agnew.

Obama did say something about his VP short list, however. Answering one of Tom Brokaw's questions, the Illinois senator confirmed a recent L.A. Times article and Ticket item that quoted a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter whom Obama had called to schmooze a bit.

Obama reassured the woman, Jill Iscol, that Clinton was indeed on his short list, an unverifiable claim possibly designed to soothe recalcitrant supporters of the New York senator. Iscol also said Obama mentioned a "complication" involved in a Clinton pick, a complication everyone assumed is named Bill.

Democratic running mates in 2008? Barack Obama and Bill Clinton as vice president?

Obama did dodge the complication question Sunday, saying he would love to have the ex-president campaign for him this fall.

Wait a minute. Maybe that's a perfect mid-summer opening to start the rumor that when Obama says "Clinton would be on anyone's short-list of vice presidential picks," he doesn't mean Hillary.

He means Bill!

Oh, sure there might be some kind of minor historical crisis if Bill ever had to assume the top job again. But what a dynamo combo!

It'd give the Republicans fits again by having a Southerner on a Democratic ticket. Like Bill Clinton and Al Gore. And John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. And Jimmy Carter and what's-his-name who was always going to funerals around the globe.

And Bill Clinton is one of a shrinking number of Democrats who hasn't yet said "no." Spread the word. B&B in '08.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credits: Getty Images (top); Associated Press (bottom).