Sen. Barack Obama's allies in Congress do not want Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate, even though many Clinton supporters are pushing the "dream ticket." The latest to tout a joint ticket is Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, an Ohio Democrat and co-chairman of Clinton's national campaign, who recently said she would like to see the two run together.
But Obama's congressional backers say former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn or former Sen. John Edwards would be the better choice. Some are wary of putting Clinton on the ticket because they believe she has run a racially divisive campaign.
Former President Bill Clinton enraged Obama supporters when he predicted Obama would win the South Carolina primary because voting would fall along racial lines. The former president later compared Obama's victory to the Rev. Jesse Jackson's win there in 1988.
Mrs. Clinton recently riled Obama's allies by talking to USA Today about her greater popularity among white working-class voters.
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, an Obama supporter, said Edwards would make a better running mate because "he hasn't made as many people angry. Some of the things she has said and done, and her husband has said and done, have disappointed people in a serious way. The comment that she was there for [the] white working class was divisive. I would hope there is a black and Latino working class she would be there for."
Rep. Lacy Clay, another Obama ally, said choosing Clinton could unify the party but also anger black supporters. "The downside is the divide that has occurred over the last year in this primary is pretty wide," Clay said. "I'm not sure the Obama supporters will fall in line and support her. It's evident that she and her husband started down this racial path shortly after the South Carolina primary and they continue to hearken back to racial divides in this country."
Pro-Obama lawmakers say the running mate needs to be "a fresh face" or should have better foreign policy and national security credentials than Clinton. They worry that Clinton, who was embroiled in bitter partisan disputes during eight years as first lady, would undermine Obama's claim that he would unite people from across the political spectrum.
Rep. Hank Johnson, another Obama ally, prefers someone like Nunn. "Clinton's forte has been domestic policies; I would prefer someone with a heavier experience on defense," he said.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr., arguably one of Obama's most prominent backers, said, John Edwards might make a more appropriate vice presidential candidate. Edwards, who was Sen. John Kerry's running mate in 2004, has emerged as a popular possible running mate because of Obama's difficulty attracting white, blue-collar voters in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Clinton supporters are enthusiastic about an Obama-Clinton or a Clinton-Obama ticket. Several, such as Sen. Charles Schumer and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, have endorsed the "dream ticket."
Two former Clinton aides are among the most outspoken advocates for a joint ticket. Adam Parkhomenko, who worked for former Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, and Sam Arora, who worked for Clinton's senate and presidential campaigns, recently started a group called VoteBoth to promote a joint ticket. They argue that Obama and Clinton would win because together.
"We think that change and experience can not only coexist on a ticket but make it much stronger," said Arora.
That argument has persuaded at least one Obama supporter in Congress, Rep. David Scott, who first endorsed Clinton but then switched to Obama. "We cannot win with just black voters, college students and liberal voters," said Scott, refering to Obama's core supporters. "We've got to have working-class whites; we've got to have the support of white women; we've got to have Hispanics, Jewish voters and Catholics. These are the very people that form the core of Hillary's support."
A version of this story originally appeared in The Hill.