The "shortlist" of options to be Barack Obama's running mate is longer than most media accounts have suggested. In addition to the familiar front runners—Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine—there are at least two other veepstakes contenders: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who enraged Hillary Clinton supporters by endorsing Obama during the primaries, and a genuine dark horse, Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, whose district includes President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford. Obama's campaign had hoped to announce his pick this week to grab the spotlight before the Beijing Olympics. But now a decision is unlikely to come until the week before the party convention, which begins in Denver on Aug. 25. According to party sources close to the selection process, who asked not to be identified discussing an internal matter, progress was slowed by Obama's overseas trip—and because his list is more fluid than generally thought. Edwards, 56, has been pushed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional Democrats who cite his work on veterans' affairs and nuclear nonproliferation, as well as his potential to attract Southern white blue-collar voters. Pelosi has called Edwards "one of the finest people I've ever served with." His stock rose further, one source said, after a meeting with Obama, though his low national profile remains a hurdle.
In fact, Obama aides have identified potential drawbacks to all the front runners. Biden brings foreign-policy expertise, but there are lingering concerns that his garrulous tendencies might knock the campaign off message. Bayh, who the sources say has been lobbying hard for the nod, brings solid centrist credentials. (An aide says Bayh is not "actively" pursuing the job.) But his wife serves on numerous corporate boards, and she also previously worked as a lawyer for drug giant Eli Lilly—an inconvenient link for a party committed to health-care reform. Kaine is seen as a "change" candidate, but he has no national-security experience. Clinton remains a possibility, but her chances are seen as remote, if only because of the near impossibility of vetting her husband's business affairs.