WASHINGTON - Sen. Barack Obama has all but settled on his vice presidential running mate and set an elaborate rollout plan for his choice, beginning with an early-morning alert to supporters, perhaps as soon as tomorrow, and then a trip to swing states by the new Democratic ticket, aides said.
Obama's deliberations remain remarkably closely held. Aides said perhaps a half-dozen advisers were involved in the final discussions in an effort to enforce a command that Obama issued to staff: that his decision not leak out until supporters are notified.
Obama had not notified his choice - or any of those not selected - of his decision as of late yesterday, advisers said.
Obama was said to be focused mainly on three candidates: Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware.
Some Democrats said they still hoped that he would choose Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York or Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.
Obama remains likely to chose someone relatively safe and avoid taking a chance with a game-changing selection. Obama's advisers said he reached his decision while on vacation in Hawaii.
They said it marked the end of what was an unexpectedly intense process, condensed because he did not want to start actively vetting potential running mates before Clinton quit the race in June.
If all goes according to plan, the announcement will be made with text and e-mail messages to supporters early in the morning, in time to capture coverage on the morning news shows and take advantage of a full day's news cycle.
Obama and his new running mate will then begin a cross-country tour. Current plans call for them to be on the trail together for most of the time between the day of the announcement and the day Obama arrives in Denver, a week from tomorrow.
Aides said the word would come at the earliest tomorrow morning and no later than Friday.