Opinion: Barack Obama’s VP: ‘Somebody who knows about a bunch of stuff’

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When, and if, it comes to looking for a vice presidential running mate, Democrat Barack Obama will be looking for ‘somebody who knows about a bunch of stuff that I’m not as expert on.’’

At a closed San Francisco fundraiser Sunday evening, previewed here earlier on the weekend, the Illinois senator, who leads in delegates and the popular vote sounded a little defensive as he fielded a question on what he’s looking for in a running mate when the time comes.


‘I would like somebody who knows about a bunch of stuff that I’m not as expert on,’ the senator is quoted on Huffington Post today. ‘I think a lot of people assume that might be some sort of military thing to make me look more commander in chief like.

‘Ironically, this is an area -- foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Sen. Clinton or Sen. McCain.

‘It’s ironic because this is supposedly the place where experience is most needed to be commander in chief,’’ he continued. ‘Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world.

‘When Sen. Clinton brags, ‘I’ve met leaders from 80 countries -- I know what those trips are like! I’ve been on them. You go from....

the airport to the embassy. There’s a group of children who do native dance. You meet with the CIA station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of a plant that [with] the assistance of USAID has started something. And then -- you go.

‘You do that in 80 countries -- you don’t know those 80 countries,’’ Obama claimed in a transcript provided by HuffingtonPost’s Mayhill Flower. ‘So when I speak about having lived in Indonesia for four years, having family that is impoverished in small villages in Africa -- knowing the leaders is not important -- what I know is the people. I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college -- I knew what Sunni and Shia was before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.’

Obama, who’s about halfway through his first U.S. Senate term, asserted that, ‘Nobody is entirely prepared for being commander in chief. The question is when the 3 a.m. phone call comes, do you have somebody who has the judgment, the temperament to ask the right questions, to weigh the costs and benefits of military action, who insists on good intelligence, who is not going to be swayed by the short-term politics. By most criteria, I’ve passed those tests and my two opponents have not.’


And, by the way, why is it always a 3 a.m. call? What’s wrong with having a crisis at 2:24? Or 4:17?

Or lunchtime?

--Andrew Malcolm and Mark Silva

Mark Silva writes for the Swamp of the Chicago Tribune’s Washington Bureau.