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Inside Politics

Obama, Clinton do the TV two-step

From Dana Bash
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With President Bush's State of the Union address as a backdrop, the potential players in the 2008 White House race have begun to crowd the stage.

Nowhere was that more clear than in the Russell Senate Office Building rotunda Tuesday night.

Halfway through Sen. Jim Webb's delivery of the Democratic response to Bush's speech, two of the party's top hopefuls were standing nearly side by side for separate network interviews.

While Sen. Barack Obama donned a microphone at the CNN camera position on one side of a column, on the other side was Sen. Hillary Clinton getting ready for an interview with NBC News.

Just then, an elevator around the corner opened and Republican Sen. John McCain came darting out. He was just able to sneak past Obama and the CNN camera before the Illinois senator's interview began.

Clinton wasn't so lucky.

After her NBC interview ended, the "in it to win it" candidate was slated next for ABC, but there was a problem -- the ABC camera was on the other side of CNN's, where Obama was on live TV.

Obama was blocking Hillary Clinton from where she wanted to go.

"Is there a metaphor in here somewhere?" Clinton was asked.

"No, there's just a very crowded rotunda," she replied with a smile.

The junior senator from New York cooled her heels for some five minutes before her counterpart from Illinois was done on CNN.

Little did Clinton know -- she was about to get revenge.

Obama was slated to follow her on ABC, and since she was late, it was suddenly his turn to wait for her.

He was trapped -- forced to engage in small talk with reporters about his hometown Chicago Bears playing in the Super Bowl, while carefully avoiding answering questions about when he would go to Iowa -- an early and important stop in the campaign wars.

Finally, an ABC producer came to tell Obama that the network was ready for him to come to its camera position, on a balcony outside.

As Obama was going out, Clinton was coming in.

"Hillary, it's not too cold out there, is it?" he asked as they squeezed by one another.

"No," she replied with a smile

But will they be as cordial in snowy Iowa and New Hampshire, when both are courting voters?

CNN's Ed Payne contributed to this report.


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