Published May 13, 2006
CHICAGO – Democratic Sen. Barack Obama has repeatedly said he doesn't plan to run for president in two years.
Yet the freshman senator from Illinois says that if he did, he's already picked a late-night talk show host to appear on the ticket with him.
How does Obama-O'Brien '08 sound?
"I was thinking about you as my running mate," Obama quipped to the host of NBC's "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" on Friday, after being asked again if he plans to launch a presidential bid.
Obama, 44, who in his first year in Congress has rocketed from a locally known politician to a national celebrity, gets asked about running for president at most of his speaking engagements. His usual answer is that he's flattered by the suggestion but still has a lot to learn about Washington.
O'Brien's query was met with wild applause inside the Chicago Theatre during a taping of O'Brien's show, which aired Friday night.
The talk show host recently had a brush with politics. He ran a mock ad campaign endorsing the re-election of Finnish President Tarja Halonen — because of her strong resemblance to him — and met with her in February at the presidential palace in Helsinki.
But don't go printing the campaign buttons yet.
"It would be the worst thing you ever did," O'Brien told Obama. "You'd think it was funny and then like a day later you'd go, `God, I'm an idiot!"'
On "Late Night," which taped in Chicago this week instead of New York, a relaxed Obama talked about everything from his hard-to-pronounce name to how his wife makes fun of his ears.
"She talks about my ears a lot, that's an old standard, how big they are," he said.
He also poked fun at President Bush, whose diction is often the target of O'Brien and his talk-show counterparts. Obama joked that Bush calls him "Rac" instead of Barack Obama (buh-RAHK' oh-BAH'-muh).
"I can't tell whether he's trying to give me a nickname, or whether he just can't pronounce my name," Obama said.