Riding in the back of a limousine to the airport at a sleepy 6 a.m., the usually volatile Jesse Jackson speaks softly. He has a ''hidden laundry list'' of issues he seeks to get resolved, he says - either before the Democratic Party convention, or on the convention floor.
First, the Democrats' ''probable candidate,'' Walter Mondale, ''should take a second look at potential candidates for vice-president,'' Mr. Jackson says.
He stretches his legs in the back seat, then protests that Mondale's checklist ''didn't include a single minority woman. I've sent him a list of women to consider.''
That list includes Shirley Chisholm, who ran for president in the 1972 Democratic primaries; Patricia Harris, former secretary of Health and Human Services and secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Carter administration; Mary Frances Berry, a member of the US Commission on Civil Rights; Eleanor Holmes Norton, former director of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; state Rep. Maxine Waters of California; and C. Delores Tucker, former Pennsylvania secretary of state.
Although no Hispanic women were included on Jackson's list, he said, ''I know there are some qualified Hispanic women out there, too.''
The ''country preacher'' scans the front page of a morning newspaper and notes that his candidacy has not received the endorsement of the National Organization for Women, even though he is the only hopeful that promised to nominate a female running mate.
Jackson is leaving Kansas City after a fast-paced visit to the 75th anniversary convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which ends Friday. Although both he and Mr. Mondale addressed the convention's 4,000 delegates, met in a two-hour private conference, and held a joint press conference, Jackson says some key issues remain unresolved between the two presidential hopefuls.
Jackson says he doesn't plan to disrupt proceedings at the Democratic convention beginning July 16 - ''I want to help the party defeat President Reagan'' - but he says he will push hard on several points before and during the convention.
Besides the issue of considering a black woman vice-president, Jackson says he will insist on a resolution favoring steps to reducing the number of ''second primaries'' - runoffs between two candidates when noneof the candidates receives a majority of the votes cast in the primary.
Although he has pledged to ''support'' the Mondale candidacy, he has refrained from saying how actively he will campaign for the candidate-apparent. He drives home the point that Mondale needs his support.
Jackson says his ''rainbow coalition'' of supporters, who gave him 3.5 million votes in 1984 primaries, provides Mondale the strongest power base to defeat President Reagan in November.
''The Democratic Party needs my coalition more than it needs boll weevils (conservative Democrats) to regain power,'' he says.
Jackson says Mondale need not fear his support because of his association with Louis Farrakhan, the Black Muslim minister who has supported Jackson, but also has made harsh statements that have alienated Jews and liberals.
''I have made a strong statement on his remarks, and I have nothing more to say.''
Mondale has said he accepted Jackson's remarks disassociating himself with the ideas advocated by the Muslim leader.
Although Jackson calls Mondale the ''probable candidate,'' he says he's still an active candidate himself, and he criticizes black leaders for not supporting him. Many black leaders are not ''aware of (grass-roots) people's power. We would have won Georgia and Alabama if our leaders had backed my candidacy. Nevertheless, we won a majority of the black votes, but we could not beat a combination of black and white opposition.''
Getting out the vote from grass-roots Jackson supporters could mean the increase of as many as 40 blacks in the next Congress, he says.
''I won primaries in 60 congressional districts where the black vote makes a difference,'' Jackson says. ''We can run black candidates with a good chance to win in many of these areas.''