She would, she wouldn't . . . she would?

Gov. Rendell reversed himself yesterday and concluded that, yes, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would definitely make a good No. 2 candidate on the Democratic presidential ticket.

"She is, in my judgment, an excellent choice" for vice president, Rendell told reporters during a stop yesterday in Ridley Township.

And with that, the governor backed away from the rather blunt statements he had made less than 24 hours earlier.

In an interview Wednesday with NY1 News in New York, he said this when asked about Clinton's future:

"Generally, a lot of politicians don't like to put somebody like that on the ticket. You know, Rule 1 for the vice president is make sure you never upstage the president, right? . . . Hillary Clinton in some ways couldn't help but upstage, even if she was trying not to."

Rendell then brought up former President Bill Clinton:

"The Obama campaign would have to make strict rules . . . about what President Clinton could and could not do during the campaign."

Although the governor is well-known for speaking his mind - whether it gets him into trouble or not - those comments came as a surprise.

He has been one of the New York senator's biggest cheerleaders in her run for the White House. In the weeks leading up to Pennsylvania's April 22 primary, he was by her side at almost every campaign stop, and he was instrumental in coordinating her efforts in the state.

And in past interviews, Rendell said repeatedly that he would "love" to see a Democratic ticket with Clinton and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

But that was before Obama won the number of delegates needed to be nominated at the party's convention in Denver in August.

Clinton is expected to concede tomorrow and throw her support to the Illinois senator. But this week, she made it clear for the first time that she would consider the vice presidential spot on the ticket.

In Delaware County yesterday to promote an energy plan before the legislature, Rendell said a running mate should be picked using two factors: who can best help you win, and who is ready to be president.

"I don't think anybody who watched Hillary Clinton over the last six months can think she's anything but ready to be president," he said.

Of all the names he has heard rumored for the vice-presidential slot, Rendell added, Clinton is in the best position to help Obama garner votes in the fall.

"Is it absolutely necessary that she's on the ticket for us to win? No," he said. "Can Sen. Obama carry states like Pennsylvania without Sen. Clinton being on the ticket? Yes, but it will require her rolling up her sleeves and doing the work for him whether she's on the ticket or not."

In the last two days, there has been almost nonstop debate over the viability of an Obama-Clinton ticket. Rendell said yesterday that Clinton would have to decide whether she truly wanted the No. 2 spot.

For instance, he said, he has long believed that he would not make a good vice presidential candidate, if only because he has been his own boss since he was elected Philadelphia's district attorney three decades ago.

Rendell's name has been bandied as a potential vice-presidential nominee, and every time he has insisted he will finish his gubernatorial term in 2011 and only after that consider a position in Washington.

"It would be very hard for me to take that role," Rendell said of the vice presidency yesterday.

Ultimately, he said, he believes that Obama and Clinton need to sit down, "person to person, no staffs, no advisers, and just see if it's something they both want."

And if they don't click?

"You can't leverage the president of the United States to make you vice president," he said. "It's like, you know, an arranged marriage. It doesn't work."