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Setback for Obama as head of hunt for vice-president quits

Barack Obama's promise to deliver a "new kind of politics" took a knock yesterday with the departure of the man hired to check out potential vice-presidential running mates.

Jim Johnson, quit as unpaid head of a three-person search team after facing criticism from Republicans for the sweetheart loans he received from a sub-prime mortgage company.

The Republican candidate John McCain said it was a "contradiction" for Mr Obama to be associated with a man who received favourable loan terms from Countrywide Financial, a bête noire of the sub-prime lending crisis, while running another lending giant, Fannie Mae.

Mr Obama said yesterday: "Jim did not want to distract in any way from the very important task of gathering information about my vice-presidential nominee" The resignation has given Republicans a rare opportunity to attack Mr Obama's holier-than-thou image about bringing reform to Washington.

Mr Obama recently told critics where to get off: "I am not vetting my V-P search committee for their mortgages ... I would have to hire a vetter to vet the vetters."

Still left on the search committee are the former deputy attorney-general, Eric Holder, and Caroline Kennedy, who campaigned during in the primaries.

Mr Obama said: "I am confident the committee will produce a number of highly qualified candidates."


From Belfast Telegraph