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Kaine in 'Serious' Talks With Obama

Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) applauds as Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine greets Sen. Barack Obama at a campaign rally last month at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Va. Obama became friends with Kaine, with whom he shares Kansas roots, on the gubernatorial campaign trail in 2005.
Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) applauds as Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine greets Sen. Barack Obama at a campaign rally last month at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Va. Obama became friends with Kaine, with whom he shares Kansas roots, on the gubernatorial campaign trail in 2005. (By Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)
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In 2005, the major issue Republicans took aim at was his opposition to the death penalty, but since becoming governor, Kaine has declined to stop several executions.

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In interviews, Obama has hinted that experience would factor into his decision on a running mate.

"I want somebody who I'm compatible with, who I can work with, who has a shared vision, who certainly complements me, in the sense that they provide a knowledge base or an area of expertise that can be useful. Because we're going to have a lot of problems and a lot of work to do," he said Sunday. "I want somebody who's going to be able to roll up their sleeves and really do some work."

Speaking to Brokaw, he reiterated that Clinton "would be on anybody's short list." Yet few people close to the Obama campaign think she is a serious contender.

Biden, whose own presidential bid ended in January, could help to balance Obama's shortcomings. He is one of his party's most prominent foreign policy voices, fluent in issues as varied as Iraq and narcotics trafficking. Elected in 1972, he also has deep ties to the Democratic establishment. With his blue-collar Scranton, Pa., roots, Biden could prove a valued surrogate in key Midwestern swing states.

But the outspoken Biden also is known for the occasional verbal gaffe, and his long tenure in Washington could muddle Obama's call for change.

Democratic observers say the safest bet may be Bayh, a former governor from a Republican state who is known for his centrist views. Obama supporters who are pressing for Bayh say that he would stir no controversy, nor would he overshadow the nominee, as an elder statesman like Biden might. Obama supporters who oppose Bayh counter that he is too conventional and too much of a Washington insider.

Reed, a military expert, is viewed as a lower-profile version of Biden who could take on a substantial national security portfolio. Like Kaine, Sebelius, Dodd and Biden, Reed also is a Roman Catholic, and his roots are humble -- his father was a school custodian.

Reed brushed aside speculation that was stirred last week when he accompanied Obama to Iraq and Afghanistan. "I am interested in serving in the United States Senate, and that interest trumps any consideration of serving as a vice president," he told the Providence Journal.

As a decision approaches, speculation about Obama's choices has intensified.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," the Weekly Standard's William Kristol said he thinks Obama has already decided on Kaine.

Obama is "in Washington on Tuesday, two days from now. He'll have a secret meeting with Tim Kaine -- this is my theory -- they'll work it all out," Kristol said. "And then on Monday, next Monday, August 4th, 11 a.m. in Richmond, Obama and Tim Kaine, and that will be an attractive young ticket. . . . I'm way out there on a limb here."

Staff writer Tim Craig contributed to this report.


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