Monday, March 08, 2004

Veep Choices

There is much speculation these days about who Kerry’s VP choice will be. There is even speculation about who Dubya will have on his ticket. This post isn’t about prognostication. Instead, it is about the relative merits of possible Kerry choices.

Gephardt- Conventional wisdom suggests that Geppy will shore up labor support and play well in the entire Midwest. The reality is that Gep didn’t command labor support as a Presidential candidate and placed a pathetic fourth in Iowa after practically living there. Okay, but Gep secures the battleground state of Missouri, right? Who knows? He has never won a statewide race and may not be popular outside of his district. The truth is Gephardt is a good man who would be a miserable failure as a VP candidate. He is deadly dull, and provide no meaningful help anywhere, outside of the possibility of Missouri. Plus, it would piss off all the Deaniacs. Even without that consideration, however, from an electoral standpoint he brings little to the table. Most pundits though he would emerge as the anti-Dean, which shows how incredibly out of touch some of these folks are.

Edwards- The conventional wisdom criticism of Edwards is that he can’t even guarantee NC. That may be true, but I think misses his real attraction. Voters find the guy likeable. He creates positive buzz and energy and God knows, someone in the Kerry campaign has to be able to consistently enthuse people. Edwards may be the strongest choice. I think he would be well received in the rust belt and would help place some key Southern states in play. No, I don’t see him bringing Alabama and Mississippi into the Dem fold, but he could be a difference maker in LA, AR, FL, NC, TN, and WV. Ultimately, synergy is more important that geography and I think these two fit better that Kerry may realize. Kerry may not like the guy, but Kennedy does and might argue for him.

Graham- Good guy, lousy candidate. May not really help in FL and certainly won’t help anywhere else. Sure, he has great credentials, but people have to care about what you’re saying before they check your vita. And the excessive notetaking is just damn weird.

Richardson- Another blogosphere favorite that is way, way off. The guy is dull and uninteresting. Even worse, he probably has more baggage than any other top name being kicked around. The sloppy security around Los Alamos will only serve to enhance the Repug attacks on Kerry’s security credentials. Do you doubt it? Remember how much anti-war bloggers were loving Robert Byrd last year? Here is what he said to Richards in 2000:

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: I have to say, I am not calling for your resignation at this moment, but you have shown a supreme, a supreme contempt of the committees of this Congress. When you decided that you would go-- if the newspaper stories are correct-- when you decided that you would go before the Intelligence Committee when you were ready... you weren't ready yet…that was a supreme act of callous arrogance, and I resent it. I think it's a rather sad story that you had a bright and brilliant career that you had never, that you would never again receive the support of the Senate of the United States for any office to which you might be appointed. It's beyond... you have squandered your treasure, and I am sorry.

I was stunned when I watched Byrd eviscerate a cabinet member on the floor of the Senate like he did. And he’s a Democrat. Fuggetaboutit.

Conventional wisdom says Richards will energize Latinos in the Southwest. Don’t count on it. Tony Sanchez didn’t sufficiently mobilize Latinos in Texas and Cruz Bustamante didn’t mobilize Latinos in California. It’s a pipe dream. Let it go.

Cleland- I respect his sacrifice. I respect his service. I deeply resent how he was treated in 2002. That said, if he hadn’t been treated so shabbily, would this one-term Senator be on many lists? No superstar during his short Senate career, not a particularly strong campaigner or speaker. Not a good candidate for Vice President. Maybe Veteran’s Affairs.

Clark- Conventional wisdom is that Clark may have lessened his VP stature with his run for the Presidency. Well, the mystique is certainly gone, but he grew as a candidate, is quite capable of ripping Bushco a new one, and has a support base that while relatively small, is quite broad. Clark can be great on the stump or in an interview, and would be much better in a one-on-one debate than he was in the 9-10 member events referred to as debates in the fall. He can also be rather flat on the stump which, honestly, makes him no worse a campaigner than most politicians. He’s better than Graham, Gephardt, Richardson or Cleland, IMHO, He also shores up Kerry’s security credentials which seem to be the target of choice for Bushco. He may help in the South and Southwest, and certainly wouldn’t hurt. His biggest drawback is a tendency to say the wrong thing from time to time and then have to explain himself too much. As he adapts more to politics this should improve. He probably best serves Kerry as the Secretary of State or National Security Advisor, however.

McCain- Yeah, I know. Rumored as early as last summer, McCain didn’t really slam the door last Sunday. He said he couldn’t see not being a Republican. A Dem/Rep ticket could really allow Kerry to sell himself to independents as a true uniter. The problem is it would not play terribly well with the base who would fear an Anti-Choice candidate, albeit an unenthusiastic one, being next in line and McCain’s support for the Iraq war would also be problematic. Also, even though I can see McCain pulling the lever for Kerry before Bush, whom I still believe he despises, I’m still not sure McCain has given up on running for President in 2008 and would not want to damage himself with Republicans or assure a Dem victory. Don’t see it happening, but maybe…

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