In this July 19, 2006 photo Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., speaks with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., during the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Washington, prior to their race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
updated 6/4/2008 6:31:13 PM ET 2008-06-04T22:31:13

Picture a cozy weekend at Camp David for President Barack Obama, Vice President Hillary Rodham Clinton Hillary Rodham Clinton and their lively spouses.

They'd talk policy and politics in the confines of the rustic retreat. After the long campaign and all the bruised feelings, Michelle Obama could finally reach out to Bill Clinton, as she recently said she's been wanting to do.

To be exact, she said: "I want to rip his eyes out."

Then added: "Kidding."

They could bring along Obama's national security adviser, let's say Samantha Power. She's the foreign policy specialist who had to leave the Obama campaign after calling Clinton a "monster."

Now that Clinton is angling to become Obama's running mate, the question arises how two frosty rivals and their seething camps might come together without sticking flag pins into each other.

It's all pretty awkward right now.

Clinton's aides and surrogates are boldly pitching her for the No. 2 spot even as many of them, like her, refuse to acknowledge she's failed in her quest for No. 1. Instead, she said she's open to being Obama's running mate.

For months, she's cast her rival as wet behind the ears and herself as the one to be trusted to deal with crises in the middle of the night.

In an Obama-Clinton White House, he'd take the 3 a.m. call. She might or might not be awakened.

For his part, Obama has painted Clinton as a figure of another time and himself as a clean break from all that's past and passe about Washington. He'd be eager to bring in his own team, to bring "change," the coin of his realm.

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Then there's Bill, a man of deep experience, in-your-face opinions and more baggage than a boxcar.

Even so, some Democratic strategists are salivating at the prospect of Obama and Hillary Clinton joining forces.

They are fixated on her electoral strengths and not at all on Oval Office atmospherics or what might be done about her husband.

Obama's side is trying to tamp down the veep speculation that threatens to overshadow his historic achievement as the first black presidential nominee, but in a way that does not seem dismissive of her and does not rule out the chance of offering her the position.

They can't afford to dismiss her, or, more precisely, the more than 17 million voters who turned out for her, including masses of blue-collar voters in swing states, Hispanics and older voters, especially women.

Obama picked his words with exquisite care when he talked about Clinton with supporters, directly addressing his but really speaking to hers.

"You can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country — and we will win that fight — she will be central to that victory," he said.

Video: Clinton open to being VP Clinton, of course, has already fought that fight for another president, her husband, and lost. She's also assailed Obama's health care plan, which does not mandate universal coverage, as seriously deficient.

Obama purposely did not address in what capacity she might take another run at health care. It's unlikely he knows. He and Clinton have yet to talk in a serious way.

The Illinois senator is famously willing to meet with difficult people, even Iran's hard-line, terrorist-underwriting, nuclear-developing, anti-American president.

But a sit-down with Clinton isn't coming together too quickly, days after he proposed that it happen once the dust settled.

After he secured the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, he called her in the evening, missed her and left a message.

She got back to him.

Then they ran into each other backstage Wednesday between delivering speeches at a Washington conference. Obama said they'd have a conversation in "coming weeks."

It's an awkward time.

And then there's Bill.

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