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.

Obama:

"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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