WASHINGTON—Now that Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes appear to be fading, some Democrats are talking about the possibility of Barack Obama taking Clinton on as his vice presidential running mate.
"It's something that this party is going to have to think very seriously about in the next few weeks," Harold Ford, a former U.S. congressman who is chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, told MSNBC after Obama on Tuesday won easily in North Carolina and ran surprisingly strong in Indiana.
There had been talk of a reverse ticket a couple of months ago. Clinton had generated speculation about Obama being her vice presidential running mate after she won Texas and Ohio, saying, "Well, that may, you know, be where this is headed."
But Clinton's disappointing showing in Tuesday's contests has given Obama added momentum. The Illinois senator increased his almost insurmountable lead in pledged delegates who will help pick the nominee at the August convention.
For some Democrats, the idea of an Obama-Clinton ticket is intriguing. They say Obama could go a long way toward patching up differences in the party by picking his battle-hardened opponent to serve as his running mate for the campaign against Republican John McCain in the November election.
According to a CBS News/New York Times poll released last week, a majority of both Obama and Clinton voters say they would favor a so-called "Dream Ticket" involving both candidates.
"People are stopping to ask themselves, why just nominate someone who has 51 percent of the vote, when we can nominate a ticket that has 100 percent of the vote?" said Sam Arora, spokesman for Vote Both, a group trying to foster a joint ticket between the two top Democrats.
But Obama gave no sense on Wednesday that he was thinking about such a move.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told reporters the Illinois senator now was focusing on the remaining contests and undecided superdelegates.
"Obviously, when we secure the nomination, that's a decision Senator Obama will need to make about who he wants to choose as his running mate but I think it's premature to be talking about who that might be," he said.
The Clinton campaign was similarly vague.
"We have not had any conversations with the Obama campaign about such a ticket," said Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson. "Senator Clinton has said it is premature to discuss such a ticket. I have not heard her (express) any interest in such a ticket."
Is It a Dream?
Some Democratic insiders are skeptical.
A Democratic strategist who supports Clinton, and who believes her candidacy is now doomed, doubted it would make sense for either side for her to be Obama's running mate.
"I think if Clinton were the nominee she'd have no one else to pick but Obama," the strategist said. "But from Obama's perspective, his argument is about change, I think he'd be better off picking someone else."
From Clinton's perspective, the Democrat added, "I don't know for her political future if it's all that useful to be vice president. I think she can have an enormous influence in the Senate over a long period of time."
A former Clinton White House aide wondered if Obama would want to bring the former first lady and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, back into the White House.
The official said since New York Sen. Clinton had conducted a far-reaching attempt to change the U.S. health care system as first lady, she would be expecting similarly big tasks as vice president.
"She's been a formidable opponent thus far. Can you imagine, with the proximity in the West Wing of the vice president's office to the Oval Office? I think she would be in there quite a bit," the official said.