How Hillary Clinton Is Playing the Veep Game

Live from New York, it's the Democratic anti-mating dance!

I'm here at NBC in Rockefeller Center, BlackBerry up and running, watching Sen. Barack Obama start to grapple—gingerly—with the bundle of explosives called Sen. Hillary Clinton. Having won the delegate race and, with it, his party's nomination, Obama now has to figure out how to honor and soothe Clinton (and her supporters) without being tied down by her limitations as yesterday's news.

Here is what I hear, on very good authority, from two sources close to the Clintons who also have strong ties to the Obama campaign: Clinton absolutely does not want the job of vice president, no matter what others are saying about it. Been there, done that in a very real sense, as First Lady. Obama, for his part, does not want her to be his vice-presidential nominee. No way. Neither do any of his major donors, supporters and advisers, say the sources, who asked for anonymity discussing sensitive matters.

But there is talk that Obama will tentatively offer, or make some kind of gesture in that direction, the VP slot to Hillary, but only, only on the understanding that she promise in advance (through intermediaries if not directly) not to accept! "She doesn't want it and would not take it," said one source very close to her. "But she would like to be asked, and that is the Kabuki theater we are about to engage in." (Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson called the notion "silly," adding, "She has already said she would do whatever she could to help the Democrats take the White House back.")

The Clinton forces also have another wish: whomever Obama ends up choosing, he not pick another woman, even after the kabuki ends. "Hillary's supporters, and Hillary herself, can't stand the idea that he would pick another woman," said another source who is personally close to the Clintons. Now, that is what they call chutzpah!

And why does Hillary care so much that Obama not pick another woman? Perhaps because Hillary has spent the last several months turning herself into the tribune of millions of working women. She deserves a lot of credit and respect for doing so. She is still their candidate, and she doesn't want to cede that to another Democrat of the same gender.