In a press conference this morning, Sen. Barack Obama responded to questions about his vice presidential vetter, Jim Johnson, and Johnson's associations with Countrywide and other mortgage countries.
"I am not vetting my VP Search Committee for their mortgages. You’re going to have to direct – it becomes sort of a – this is a game that can be played – everybody, who is tangentially related to our campaign, I think, is going to have a whole host of relationships. I would have to hire the vetter to vet the vetters. I mean at some point, we just asked people to do their assignments. Jim Johnson has a very discrete task, as does Eric Holder, and that is simply to gather up information about potential vice presidential candidates. They’re performing that job well. It’s a volunteer, unpaid position. And they’re giving me information, and I will then exercise judgment in terms of who I want to select as a vice presidential candidate. So these aren’t folks who are working for me, they’re not people who I have assigned to a particular job in a future administration. And ultimately, my assumption is that this is a discrete task that they are going to be performing for me over the next two months.
I don't see where the story goes from here, pending more revelations, so Obama's answer today might be the last we'll hear of it, despite the McCain campaign/RNC's best efforts. That said, yes, the VP search process is a discreet task, but it is one that is extremely important and that has bearing on the future of the country. Johnson is a valued adviser to Obama. Obama's definition of "tangential" must be quite roomy.
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