(CNN) – Hillary Clinton’s campaign spokesman said Monday that Barack Obama was not yet prepared to serve as commander-in-chief – but might be able to cross that threshold in time to join the Democratic ticket this summer as a vice presidential candidate.
Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton and campaign surrogate, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, all suggested that Barack Obama might make a good vice president.
On a conference call with reporters and several prominent military supporters of Clinton’s presidential bid, spokesman Howard Wolfson was asked: if Obama is not ready to lead in times of crisis, how can he be considered for the vice presidency?
“We do not believe that Senator Obama has passed the commander in chief test,” said Wolfson. “But there is a long way between now and Denver.”
He did not say what Obama might be able to do to get ready in the months before the Democratic convention this August.
In response, Obama spokesman Bill Burton e-mailed reporters the quote, along with the Clinton campaign press office number, and urged journalists to call and ask them what Wolfson’s statement “could possibly mean.”
Ret. Gen Joe Ballard – who joined Wolfson on the call, along with Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark and Ret. Adm. Joe Sestak - made the case that Clinton is more qualified to handle foreign crises than Obama, an argument her campaign has been stressing in recent weeks.
“When I look across the aisle at Senator Obama, other than a great speech, I do not see the same body of experience to deal with the issues,” said Ballard.
UPDATE: Obama said at a campaign event Monday he is "not running for vice president."
"I want everybody to be absolutely clear. We are in a tough battle," he said. "And I don't presume that I have won this election. Senator Clinton is fighting hard. She's tenacious. I respect her for that. She is working hard to win the nomination. But I want everybody to be absolutely clear. I'm not running for vice president. I'm running for president of the United States of America."
– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand