Monday, June 16, 2008

Vice President Who??

With the nominations for the Democrat and Republican presidential sweepstakes all but a done deal, there's been a certain amount of speculation of who Barack Hussein Obama and John McCain will pick as running mates.

For what it's worth, here's my two cents.

Normally, a vice presidential candidate is chosen with several factors in mind; to heal a breach in the party, to 'balance' the ticket ideologically or geographically, to address the concerns of a select group of influential voters, to try and capture the electoral votes of a state or region, or to balance out a perceived weakness in a candidate's resume or experience.

A good example of the last one was the Bush-Cheney ticket, teaming up a presidential candidate with a limited resume on foreign policy and international relations with a man who had extensive experience in both areas.

So, who's likely to be on the list, in my view?

Let's take Obama first.

The Chosen One has a number of areas where he's likely to need an assist.

His National Security and military cred is severely lacking, and Jim Webb or Wesley Clark could definitely help him there. Webb, as a fairly popular senator from Virginia, decorated Vietnam veteran and an ex-Secretary of the Navy under Reagan probably helps Obama the most out of the pair. It also brings Virginia and its 14 electoral votes into play, something the Democrats may need badly in order to win. On the minus side, Webb is known for having a fairly acerbic and at times downright nasty personality, but a lot of that can be scripted out with some care.

Tim Kaine, Virginia's Democratic governor is another name that has come up, fo rth esam ereason..he brings the possibilty of the Democrats carrying Virginia.

Another area Obama is likely to need help with is with Hispanics. The black-brown divide in America is by no means a myth, particularly in a political party where identity politics is the name of the game. Obama has lost the Hispanic vote in every state in the primaries where that vote has been a factor by at least 2 to 1.

Someone like Bill Richardson could help him here. Aside from his being Hispanic and a bi-lingual campaigner, Richardson also has the advantage of not being particularly bright an thus unlikely to upstage Barack Obama. Plus, he could possibly tip New Mexico to the Democrats...only 5 electoral votes, but it could end up being important. Bush won the state in 2004 by a razor thin margin.

Out of the people mentioned, Jim Webb is probably the strongest choice for Obama, I think.

McCain has weaknesses of a different sort.

For one thing, his age almost mandates that he will be a one term president, and that his vice presidential pick assumes more than the usual importance.

His candidacy has already alienated two key GOP constituencies, ideological conservatives and evangelicals. In both cases, McCain seems to have almost deliberately set out not to win their approval, particularly in the case of evangelicals.His people may be telling him that these groups will end up voting for him over Obama because they will have nowhere else to go and they could be largely correct when push comes to shove, but it's a huge risk to take.

Assuming, however, that McCain had decided not to actively court these two groups, some interesting choices emerge.

Tim Pawlenty is a popular governor of Minnesota, a state that has been trending more and more Republican each election. He's relatively conservative, young (48), and a long time McCain booster. In a close election, Minnesota's 10 electoral votes could make the difference between victory and defeat.

Another running mate that could help McCain would be Rudy Giuliani, especially if McCain is not worried about a conservative defection. Rudy is smart, has experience on the national scene, impeccable national security credentials and a history of accomplishment in every position he's held. His management expertise in turning the relatively bankrupt city of New York around could be helpful to a candidate who admits economics isn't his strong point.He's a great speaker and 'retail' campaigner even if he's a lousy campaign strategist, will help McCain with the Jewish vote and brings New York and New Jersey into play. His drawbacks include his complicated personal life and an unfortunate tendency to mention 9/11 far too often.

Another wild card McCain pick for vice president would be his long time friend, Joe Lieberman. Lieberman is that rare commodity, a relatively sensible liberal with firm views on national security. Because of that, he was run out of the Democratic party, but remains a symbol to Democrats, especially older ones who are uneasy with the far Left direction the party has taken. Like Giuliani, Lieberman has experience on the national stage, enjoys a fair amount of respect nationally and could symbolize the bi-partisan consensus McCain appears to be seeking.

Choosing Lieberman might anger a fair amount of conservatives, but again, McCain may very well be figuring that enough of them will end up holding their noses and pulling the lever for him in November that it isn't a significant downside.

Another interesting possibility for McCain would Tom Ridge, the well liked ex-governor of Pennsylvania. Like McCain, Ridge is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran. He's also a fiscal conservative with a solid track record of astute financial management. His career in public service includes a stint as an Assistant District Attorney, six terms in Congress, and two terms as a popular Republican governor in Pennsylvania, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 500,000. He was also the head of the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11.

Ridge won re-election as governor by better than 57%, and naming him to the ticket definitely puts Pennsylvania in play for the GOP. And Pennsylvania is not a state Barack Obama did particularly well in.

Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

imo conservatives will never ever have a candidate in the race.
get used to it.
democrats elect the president.
who ever can get more of them wins.
i had never thought of Giuliani as a veep.
would he take it?
if mccain is only going in for one term, it would be a great spring board for him. a four year campaign from next to the bully pulpit.
plus, if he could carry NY, wow.

and an unfortunate tendency to mention 9/11 far too often.
imo it can not be mentioned enough.
have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

During this slow campaign period, everyone overthinks the issue. History tells us that the most likely VP candidates are the runners-up: Romney and Hillary.

(Huck fans will say that he was the runner-up, but that's just because he overstayed his welcome in the campaign)

Anonymous said...

If McCain is really interested in courting conservatives, then he would probably go with either Rick Santorum of Pa., or maybe Mark Sanford of SC. However, you are probably correct that conservatives will be pulling the "Anyone but Barackichelle HUSSEIN Obama" lever, which has McCain's name all over it. To keep things interesting, maybe Michael Steele?

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Y'all!

Louie , As you know I always felt Giuliani would have made the best president,next to Duncan Hunter.
They had the best understanding of the jihadist threat of any of the candidates. He'd be astounding as a VP,and he might just go for it, although he would get slimed by the media .

As for 9/11,the truth is that the country doesn't really perceive a threat right now.It will take a more broad based view to win right now.

Hi Anonymous #1,
I'll bet neither of the three people you mention is chosen...especially not Hillary

Hi Anonymous 2,
I agree with you that McCain is not going to be courting conservatives.

I like Rick Santorum a great deal, but Ridge is a better choice is bringing PA into the mix is what's desired.

As for Michael Steele, I like him but he would not even be able to deliver his home state, let alone cut into Obama's lock on the black vote.