What strikes me about Barack Obama saying he wouldn’t accept being Vice President is how… pompous that is. Regardless of who wins the nomination, our country could use us some Barack. And he’d turn down Veep because of his… pride? Because Hillary Clinton is OMG SO MEEN even though she seems to carry swing states?
I don’t think that’s it.
The Clinton campaign is losing. They’re pulling out all the stops, stooping to new lows (e.g. the 3 AM phonecall ad) in a desperate grab for support.
It’s in their best interest to attempt to deflate the Obama momentum. One way to do that is to convince people that Clinton is winning, even though she isn’t. If you keep saying you’re the winner, and the media helps you repeat it, you can sway a close race to your side.
You can make them stop counting, declaring you the winner, even if you aren’t.
Obama rejected their notion of “offering” him the VP seat because he’s winning, and letting that possibility circulate would sound like he’s losing. It might reduce his momentum in the remaining primaries, and it would help convince the population (and the superdelegates) that he’s not powerful enough to beat McCain.
That’s why the Clintons floated that idea — that was the goal! Did you think it was some sort of altruistic peace offering? Of course not. It was pure political strategy — and it was the sleazy, dirty kind that Karl Rove used to wedge Bush into office. The Clintons have repeatedly shown that they’re willing to engage in these tactics, while Obama’s campaign has been impressively clean and fair.
Obama had to quickly, publicly, and definitively reject any notion of settling for the vice-presidency. And that’s exactly what he did. Clinton would have done the same if the offer was in the other direction.
There’s a lot more to political strategy than any of us realize.