Leading Obama Scoffs at Clinton Proposition

WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama, locked in a tight and contentious race with Hillary Rodham Clinton, was favored to win Tuesday's primary in Mississippi as the two Democrats battled in their historic contest for the party's presidential nomination. Obama, who is seeking to become the first black U.S. president, ridiculed Clinton's suggestion that he could be her running mate.

"I don't know how somebody who is in second place is offering the vice presidency to someone who is in first place," Obama said, drawing cheers and a standing ovation from about 1,700 people in Columbus, Mississippi.

He told supporters: "I don't want anybody here thinking that somehow, 'Well, you know, maybe I can get both.' Don't think that way. You have to make a choice in this election."

Obama aides said Clinton's recent hints that she might welcome him as her vice presidential candidate seemed meant to diminish him and to attract undecided voters in the remaining primary states by suggesting they could have a "dream ticket."

Clinton and her husband, the former president, had suggested recently that a Clinton-Obama ticket would be popular and formidable against Republican Senator John McCain in November.

Insiders feel the ambitious and fast-rising Obama would chafe in the vice president's job, especially if Bill Clinton also played a significant advisory role.