presidential hopeful Barack Obama says Al Gore would play a
key role in his administration if he wants one, but he won't
say whether he'd ask him to be his running mate.
to Obama address a crowded community center Wednesday, a
voter asked him to consider naming Gore as his running mate
before the nomination is decided ''as a way to take
the wind out of Hillary's sails.''
The voter even
proposed a campaign slogan: ''Obama and Gore: Experience
and Youth. Obama and Gore: Wisdom and Truth.''
Not so fast, came
senator said Gore would be involved in his administration in
a ''very senior capacity, if he's willing'' but joked, ''I
will also be honest with you: Having won the Nobel
Peace Prize and an Oscar, being vice president again
would probably be a step down for him.''
Gore won the
prize this month for working to raise awareness about global
broader question -- why him instead of Sen. Hillary Rodham
Clinton -- Obama repeated his argument that he is uniquely
qualified to end the gridlock in Washington.
''I think people
feel like I listen, and I've got some common sense, and
I don't have a lot of baggage,'' he said.
Obama also said
opening government to public scrutiny will be at the
heart of his administration, and he criticized the Bush
administration as too secretive.
''I'm not just
going to have one of these press conferences every six
months where I call on my three favorite reporters. We're
going to have regular press conferences to explain to
the American people here's what we're trying to do and
to be held accountable,'' said Obama, though like
Clinton, he rarely holds news conferences on the campaign
came from a woman more concerned with Obama's fate in
the general election if he is nominated. She asked how he
would he avoid being ''swift-boated,'' referring to
the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads about John
Kerry's Vietnam War record that helped sink the
Massachusetts senator's presidential hopes in 2004.
Obama said he
expects to face similar attacks if he becomes the nominee.
''I have no doubt
there will be some of that -- trying to make me into
this foreign, odd, clearly black person and to scare
people,'' he said. ''When people try to swift-boat
you, you have to respond forcefully, you have to
respond immediately, and you have to respond truthfully....
We are prepared for whatever they will throw at us.''
In his answer,
Obama also responded to Republican presidential hopeful
Mitt Romney, who said Wednesday that he'd made a slip of the
tongue a day earlier when he said Obama, instead of
Osama bin Laden, had urged terrorists to unite in
''I think when
Romney starts saying this stuff sometimes it may be honest
mistakes, sometimes not. You don't know,'' Obama said.
He took a lighter
tone when another questioner asked him to describe the
differences between himself and Bin Laden.
been very confused about this,'' Obama said. ''I have a
lot of trouble growing a beard. I don't have a lot of facial
hair -- that's a good place to start. He lives in
a cave.'' (Holly Ramer, AP)