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Obama's potential running mates

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  • NEW: Obama picks Caroline Kennedy, Eric Holder for search committee
  • Obama faces tough choice of whom to pick for running mate
  • Hillary Clinton has indicated that she is open to a joint ticket
  • There is a wide field of contenders from across political spectrum
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(CNN) -- After emerging as victor in the long and bruising contest to seize the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential race, Barack Obama's next move is to choose a running mate.

And that search for a vice president is getting some added support.

Caroline Kennedy has joined Obama's vice presidential selection team, a campaign spokesman said Wednesday.

Former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson is heading up the search team, and former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is also serving on the committee.

Kennedy, the daughter of President Kennedy, formally endorsed Obama late January in a New York Times op-ed piece titled, "A President Like My Father."

"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them," Kennedy wrote. "But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president -- not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans."

Sen. Hillary Clinton, whose tenacious refusal to surrender the nomination contest turned the Democratic race into one of the most nail-biting in modern U.S. political history, has indicated that she would be willing to sign up on a joint ticket.

But while Clinton's appointment could help heal rifts in the party after weeks of divisive campaigning from both candidates, Obama has the pick of a broad field of candidates from across the political spectrum. iReport.com: Whom do you see as VP?

Here is a list of possible front-runners:

  • Evan Bayh: What he lacks in charisma, the telegenic Bayh makes up for in national security credentials, having served on both armed services and intelligence committees in the Senate.
  • Joseph Biden: A six-term senator who helms the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden could offer the heavyweight foreign policy experience that Obama is often accused of lacking. But at 65, and seen as part of the U.S. political furniture, he could undermine Obama's message of change.
  • Michael Bloomberg: Since ruling out his own independent bid for presidency, the mayor of New York has been seen as a potential running mate for both Obama and McCain. For Obama, the media tycoon and former Republican would help mitigate the Democrat's problem with Jewish voters brought on by rumors that he is a Muslim but do little to attract the white, working-class vote.
  • Wesley Clark: This former NATO commander, who failed in his bid for the 2004 presidential nomination, was seen as a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, a fact that could help unite the party. But the 63-year-old's tough reputation as a no-nonsense soldier is unlikely to win much backing among party activists.
  • Hillary Clinton: Although the "dream ticket" of a Obama-Clinton campaign could help harness Clinton's power base of women and white working-class Democrats, the prospect of uniting the two rivals has won mixed support. A non-scientific CNN.com poll said 60 percent of people were not in favor of the move.
  • Chris Dodd: A long-serving senator with solid foreign policy credentials who was considered as a running mate for John Kerry's failed presidential bid in 2004, Dodd presents the same problems as Biden.
  • Charles Hagel: A close friend of fellow Republican John McCain, Obama's general election rival, Hagel's strong anti-war in Iraq stance has generated cross-party appeal, and though an unlikely choice, he could be seen as the man to attract wavering Republican voters.
  • Ed Rendell: As an outspoken Clinton supporter, Rendell could rally support for Obama, and as governor of swing state Pennsylvania, he could help secure key votes, but his popularity is limited outside Philadelphia.
  • Bill Richardson: The New Mexico governor, who identifies himself as Hispanic, could help sway the burgeoning Latino vote in addition to lending heavyweight foreign policy credentials as a former United Nations ambassador.
  • Kathleen Sebelius: The two-term governor of mainly Republican Kansas, Sebelius has proven cross-party support, but the rising Democratic star lacks a national profile.
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  • Jim Webb: Another rising star, straight-talking Webb has dismissed his vice presidential prospects, but his appeal as a Vietnam veteran and successful novelist are clear. Webb's bluntness, however, led one commentator to label him an "unguided missile."
  • Other names mentioned in the running include: Former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

    CNN's Candy Crowley and Roland Martin contributed to this report.

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