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Obama Veepstakes Shocker!

jim webb

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Virginia senator Jim Webb surprised many yesterday by saying he’s committed to the Senate and “under no circumstances” would he agree to become Barack Obama’s vice-president. Many thought Webb had the perfect qualities to balance the ticket: a celebrated military background, swing-state representation, proud Scots-Irish heritage, and outsider appeal. It was like Cinderella’s foot slipping ever so nicely into the glass slipper, except infinitely more manly. And so Obama’s veep process continues with one less option. (We recently evaluated the top candidates; John Heilemann thinks finding the ideal running mate will be difficult.) Herewith, reactions to Webb’s announcement and looks at which contenders’ stocks are rising in its wake.

• Marc Ambinder explains that Webb dropping out was a response to the Obama vetting team’s request for “information and documents” as part of their investigation into his “background and career.” Webb, someone close to him says, “did not want to relive the vigors of a campaign so soon after his election to the Senate.” [Atlantic]

• Ezra Klein thinks it’s good Webb will be staying in the Senate, where “his experience and temperament” have prepared him to be a “a leading national voice on foreign affairs.” Instead of “trying to solve their inadequacies on national security through the superficial fix of presidential resume searches,” the Democrats can “begin building a strong party infrastructure” in the Senate around Webb. [American Prospect]

• Jim Geraghty thinks that the chances of Obama picking a running mate from veep-rich swing state Virginia “now seem pretty slim.” [Campaign Spot/National Review]

• Chris Cillizza believes it made sense for Webb to decide as he did, considering his “very successful” first term in the Senate, with the passage of the GI Bill, and the rough vetting process that “would not be an enjoyable experience for the notably temperamental freshman senator.” [Fix/WP]

• As for other Obama options, Jonathan Alter likes much-discussed former Georgia senator Sam Nunn for his foreign-policy bona fides and, in fact, his “dull and staid persona,” which “could help voters leery of too much change overcome their misgivings about Obama. He’s white, Southern, and comfortable.” [Stumper/Newsweek]

• Christopher Orr notes that, in all the cheerleading for Nunn, nobody has mentioned how adaptable his name will be for headline writing in various situations: “There’s ‘Flying Nunn’ if things go well, and ‘Nunn the Less’ if they don’t; ‘Second to Nunn’ if he bristles at taking orders from a one-term senator, and ‘Singing Nunn’ if he gets called to testify before Congress.” [Plank/New Republic]

• Walter Shapiro writes that Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius “would accentuate Obama’s professed vision of a post-partisan America,” as “it is hard to think of a political figure who operates in a more inclusive fashion than Sebelius.” [Salon]

• Dana Goldstein thinks Arizona governor Janet Napolitano, who has succeeded by reaching out to Republicans, would be a vice-president possibility, except that she doesn’t represent a swing state and some believe her “nontraditional personal life — she has never been married and has no children” — would disqualify her. [American Prospect]

• Ed Kilgore wouldn’t be surprised if Napolitano eventually made the veep short list, as she could “help Obama keep McCain very occupied in his Arizona base and could help in other western states, as well, without appearing provincial.” She was born in New York, he points out. [War Room/Salon]

• Bill Zwecker reports that Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, predicts Obama will choose Joe Biden for his running mate, “due to the Senate foreign-relations-committee chairman’s ‘international experience.’” [Chicago Sun-Times] —Dan Amira

Related: Heilemann on Obama’s V.P. Conundrum
Barack Obama’s Potential Running Mates: A Who’s Who

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Obama Veepstakes Shocker!