Running for veep

Barring some political miracle or immense gaffe by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the presidential race is set.

Obama will be facing off against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and not surprisingly, the chatter about who will be the vice presidential candidate has intensified.

Some political observers believe it is unlikely that Obama or McCain will pick a senator as his running mate, noting that a governor or former governor is more probable.

But politics is unpredictable, and there is a decent chance that one of the White House hopefuls — more likely Obama — will select a senator.

Other than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), some Democrats whose names have been mentioned include Sens. Jim Webb (Va.) and Evan Bayh (Ind.).

Meanwhile, Sens. Sam Brownback (Kan.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John Thune (S.D.) have been touted in some GOP circles.

Yet sometimes the person not on short lists is the one selected. Few, if any, predicted that George W. Bush would pick Dick Cheney as his running mate in 2000.

The Hill newspaper wanted to find out whether senators would accept an offer to be vice president. Reporter J. Taylor Rushing asked a pointed question of all 97 members of the upper chamber not now vying for the presidency: “If you were asked, would you accept an offer to be the vice presidential nominee?”

We asked all of them because of the unpredictability factor and were well aware that we would get some amusing responses.

On the serious side, a smiling Webb said, “I’m not really interested.”

Bayh said, “I suspect that’s not the sort of thing you say no to.”

Thune said, “That won’t happen, so I won’t have to worry about it.”

The most entertaining answers, however, were from the senators who don’t anticipate that they will have to go through a background check anytime soon.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said, “Absolutely. Absolutely … I’d bring a lot of fun to the job. We would rock the Naval Observatory.”

“I plan to stick to my current job until I get the hang of it,” Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said, “The chances of that are so remote that I’m more likely to be hit by an asteroid.”

The Senate can be a stuffy place, but it was refreshing to see how members handled The Hill’s question. Some answers were insightful, while others had a good dose of self-deprecating humor. Despite not being short on ego, the Senate showed its human side by answering a question that is being asked more and more these days.

You can see all of the responses here