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Yet Another Veep Thread: Nobody Knows Anything

Notice the exceptional similarity between Nedra Pickler’s story on the Obama veep selection process in the Associated Press, and the Nagourney/Zeleny story in the New York Times.

NYT (Nagourney/Zeleny):

Mr. Obama had not notified his choice — or any of those not selected — of his decision as of late Monday, advisers said. Going into the final days, Mr. Obama was said to be focused mainly on three candidates: Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware.

Some Democrats said they still hoped that he would choose Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, or Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who has been under steady consideration by Mr. Obama’s campaign.

AP (Pickler):

Obama was believed to have narrowed his list to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. While it seemed increasingly unlikely that he would choose his vanquished rival, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, some Democrats speculated Monday that he could pull a surprise and pick her.

The stories are identical nearly down to the word, the only difference being that Sebelius is mentioned in the first tier of the AP story but sort of relegated to the second tier in the Times story. If these were college papers, one would be disqualified for plagiarizing the other.

Why does this matter? It means that nobody is talking — nobody has any proprietary info. Pickler and Nagourney were probably fed this info by the same source — my money is on Robert Gibbs — and the message went out exactly as the Obama campaign wanted it to.

As such, I would not dismiss the possibility of a surprise choice, precisely because the Obama campaign has the discipline to pull it off. Still, I have to agree with Sean that the more build-up there is, the more pressure there is on the Obama campaign to deliver on a big name. Would a head-fake make sense if the Obama campaign were going to deliver us a Chet Edwards or — bless his political heart — a Brian Schweitzer — someone who had all those iPhone-carrying Obama supporters furiously checking Wikipeida after they received Team O’s text message?

Not much. Either they’re playing it straight-up — meaining Biden, Bayh, Kaine, or Sebelius — or it’s some kind of A-lister, someone for whom the elaborate staging of it all doesn’t produce an anti-climax. That list is probably limited to Hillary, Gore, Kerry and Colin Powell, though I have real trouble imagining the latter two. Somebody who had officially disqualified themselves — Mark Warner or Jim Webb — would presumably also produce a lot of shock value. But I think we need to start discounting some of these second-tier picks that don’t have strong brands, like the Jack Reeds and the Chris Dodds.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.