McCain, Obama now taking each other on |

McCain, Obama now taking each other on

Liz Sidoti
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

WASHINGTON – The Democratic presidential nomination his, Barack Obama reached out Wednesday to mend fences with his defeated rival as Republican opponent John McCain tried to frame the fall campaign on his own terms. “I think he has exercised very bad judgment on national security issues and others,” McCain said.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was angling to become Obama’s running mate and her aides ramped up the speculation on that matter Wednesday. “I think a lot of her supporters would like to see her on the ticket,” Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said. But Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs cautioned “there is no deal in the works.”

Clinton has yet to acknowledge Obama’s victory in the bruising Democratic race and her aides ” also dodging that conclusion ” said on the morning talk shows that she would take a few days to decide what comes next for her. Obama spoke by phone with her Tuesday night and both sides predicted he and Clinton would sit down together before long.

“When the dust settles and it makes sense for her, he’ll meet whenever she wants to,” Gibbs said. “She’s accumulated a lot of votes throughout this country. We want to make sure that we’re appealing to her voters.”

On the final night of the primary season, Clinton won South Dakota on Tuesday while Obama took Montana ” and a slew of party superdelegates who declared their support to help him clinch the nomination. He did it, according to The Associated Press tally, based on primary elections, state Democratic caucuses and support from superdelegates. It took 2,118 delegates to clinch the nomination at the convention in Denver this summer, and Obama had 2,144 by the AP count.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a dogged Clinton supporter, recognized the brutality of the arithmetic.

“I am the last of the Mohicans, but it is over,” he said.

But after all of Obama’s struggles to win over white blue-collar workers and older voters who flocked to Clinton, Rendell said he remained “a little wary” about the Illinois senator’s prospects.

“Senator Obama is an exciting candidate, he’s smart as a whip, he’s got the backbone,” he said on CNN, “but he’s got some work to do, no question about it.”

Obama and Clinton were both back in Washington on Wednesday to address the national conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The primaries behind them, Obama and McCain were drawing the battle line for a fall fight that will make history with the election of either the oldest first-term president in McCain or the first black commander in chief in Obama. In speeches marking the start of the general election, both maneuvered for the advantage with voters sour on the status quo. Both were competing beyond their party’s base, too.

“The key to winning the election is independent voters and Democrats as well,” McCain said in an interview shown Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Even so, he said “I don’t think so” when asked on CBS whether he’d pick a Democrat as his running mate.

In St. Paul, Minn., Obama, 46, ceded no ground on the reformer mantle and cast McCain as a continuation of the unpopular President Bush’s eight-year tenure.

“My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign,” he said Tuesday. “Because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.”

The campaign is the first in half a century in which neither a sitting president nor a vice president is running for the highest office, and the first since 1960 in which a senator will assume the White House. A fragile economy and an ongoing Iraq war, as well as matters of age and race, serve as a backdrop.

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