Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Member of Obama veep panel quits under fire
James Johnson criticized for favorable loans he received from a sub-prime mortgage lender now under federal investigation
By John McCormick and Mike Dorning | Tribune reporters
8:44 PM CDT, June 11, 2008
An embattled member of Sen. Barack Obama's vice presidential search team quit Wednesday following criticism of favorable loans he received from a sub-prime mortgage lender now under federal investigation.
James Johnson, a longtime Washington insider whose roots go back to the Carter administration, resigned from Obama's three-person vetting team following four days of controversy over his personal loans with preferential terms.
"Jim did not want to distract in any way," Obama said in a statement. "We have a very good selection process under way, and I am confident that it will produce a number of highly qualified candidates for me to choose from in the weeks ahead."
It was a complete reversal for the Illinois Democrat from his statements the previous day, when Obama stood by Johnson and suggested there was no need to "vet the vetters."
. . . Unlike a controversy this spring involving Obama's longtime Chicago pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., Obama moved much more quickly to distance himself from questions encircling Johnson.
"He's learned he's got to have a war room and turn things around rapidly or he'll get hammered," said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington.