Here's an excerpt from my cover feature for this week's National Journal.
Some Obama advisers who are not privy to the process have come up with an informal short list based on previous discussions with Obama and informed guesswork. The list includes Sebelius, with whom Obama has a warm and easy friendship; Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, one of the first elected officials to endorse Obama; Daschle, who has become one of Obama's closest advisers; Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, who is too politically appealing to avoid vetting; and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, another early endorser whom Obama has grown to admire. Before the campaign clamped down on leaks, Obama's friends said that Clinton remained a remote possibility, but added that her chances could improve if Obama seems to be having trouble uniting the party.
Two associates said that Daschle told Obama months ago that he did not want to be considered, but Daschle told National Journal that he wasn't adamant: "What I said was that I'm not anticipating going back in government. I didn't say I wouldn't do it. I, of course, would consider something if it were offered. But I have absolutely no desire to put my name in consideration." Dodd and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are both interested in the job, their advisers say. Dodd recently hired Miles Lackey, who guided Edwards through the process in 2004, as his chief of staff. Edwards has said publicly he doesn't want the job and has told friends he would not accept it. Kerry has his sights set on a national security Cabinet post, according to a close adviser.
In weighing potential VP nominees, political reporters start with politics and end with personal qualities. Obama has been advised to do the opposite. Advisers say that as he thinks about his possible choices, he will first determine whether the person would make a good vice president and, if necessary, a good president; whether the person is someone he could get
along with for eight years; and whether the person is trustworthy. Only when Obama is satisfied that the person passes those tests will he begin considering the political angles.
Marc Ambinder is a former contributing editor at The Atlantic.