Obama stop in NW Indiana

PORTAGE, Ind. He visited a local restaurant with Senator Evan Bayh, who's on the short list of Obama's vice presidential candidates.

Obama said good-bye to Indiana and its most popular Democrat after the Portage event Wednesday afternoon. And there probably won't be a vice presidential announcement for at least another week, according to an Obama campaign spokesman. But Senator Bayh is a former governor from a prominent political family. And he sits on two key Senate committees - intelligence and armed services. So it's logical for him to be on Obama's short list for VP, especially when a Democratic candidate hasn't won the Hoosier State in 54 years.

The body language, the smiles and the obvious rapport at a morning rally in Elkhart, Indiana, cranked the vice presidential spin machine into overdrive.

But at a lunch stop in Portage, Obama was biting on a French fry, not the VP question.

"We're in Indiana. We're campaigning with the most popular politician in Indiana. That's the smart thing to do," Obama said.

"We talk sports and family," Bayh said. "we don't need anymore speculation today. I'm flattered to death."

Bayh's been on the vice presidential short list twice before because he's such a popular Remocrat in such a reliable GOP state. And this time around, as one of Hillary Clinton's top supporters, Bayh can help Obama connect with the older, blue-collar voters who've been his toughest demographic.

"Evan Bayh is a little more towards the conservatives, so it would be a perfect fit," said Joel Vuko, Portage resident.

"I like Bayh," said Deborah Allen, Portage resident, who said Bayh on the ticket would make a difference.

Portage is only a few miles from Griffith, Indiana, which was devastated by Monday night's tornado. And one woman at the Portage event said Obama should've found time to stop there.

"Looking, seeing, comforting, compassion - that's what this job is about. It's just human nature," said Suzy Wright, Valparaiso resident.

"The last thing that a cleanup effort needs, a little bit of a circus. We're lucky enough to say hello to people that obviously want to say hello to these guys," said Robert Gibbs, Obama campaign spokesman.

Obama's not expected to announce a running mate until after vacationing with his family in Hawaii next week. And history tells us the choice is, more often than not, a surprise. But Obama and Bayh certainly look more comfortable together than Obama and Clinton, which may or may not mean anything.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.