Nation & World

Texas' Chet Edwards emerges as a late possibility for VP

WASHINGTON — Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, whose congressional district stretches from Fort Worth's southern suburbs to the Bryan-College Station area, has undergone background checks as a possible vice presidential nominee, Democratic Party officials confirmed Friday.

One top Democratic aide speaking on the condition of anonymity said Edwards had made a short list of three or so contenders.

"He’s a finalist," the aide said. "They did vet him."

CNN then caught up with Edwards in Waco and he confirmed that he'd been vetted. Asked about his strong public support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., he said, "I'm real honored that she and others in the Congress thought I'd be a good vice presidential candidate. I’m honored to have been considered."

He also said that he'd not spoken recently to Obama.

Edwards' staff has refused to answer questions for weeks about whether the Texas Democrat had submitted information for the vetting process.

Even with Pelosi's support, Edwards has been considered a dark horse candidate because of his low national profile and homestate position. A vice-president is usually chosen with the expectation that he or she will help the ticket carry their state — an unlikely prospect in the Republican stronghold of Texas.

Obama says he will release the name of his running mate via text message sometime before an appearance Saturday in Springfield, Ill.

Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Evan Bayh of Indiana were also in the mix, as were Govs. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas — and any unknown others Obama had managed to keep secret despite intense scrutiny.

Obama told reporters on Thursday he has already made his choice, and aides have used the prospect of a text-message announcement to try to attract additional supporters by soliciting their cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

"Obviously, the most important question is: Is this person ready to be president?" Obama told The Early Show on CBS. Second, he said, was: "Can this person help me govern? Are they going to be an effective partner in creating the kind of economic opportunity here at home and guiding us through some dangerous waters internationally?"

And, he added: "I want somebody who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a 'yes person’ when it comes to policymaking."

Among those believed in the running, Edwards, Biden and Bayh fit the mold of a running mate with experience in defense or foreign policy — areas in which Obama performs relatively poorly in the polls compared with Republican Sen. John McCain.

There was no shortages of other speculation, ranging from: N.Y. Sen. Hillary Clinton, GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who traveled with Obama to Iraq and Afghanistan; Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, or Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut.

Edwards is a favorite of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who praised his "extraordinary credentials" on ABC’s "This Week" on Aug. 3 and said: "I hope he will be the nominee."

One Democratic official with knowledge of the conversation said Obama told Pelosi recently that she would be pleased with the choice, the Associated Press reported. Other Democratic officials said he was on the short list. All spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Obama’s selection process.

Edwards, chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, is a nine-term moderate Democrat representing the GOP-leaning Texas district. He is well-known in Texas but does not have a national profile.

Asked about Pelosi's praise, Edwards said in July that he "cannot imagine that many Americans would not consider it a privilege" to be considered a vice presidential contender.