Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Veepstakes! The "2-minute warning" edition

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

(Or more accurately the "2-week warning" edition)

Last spring I wrote a column over at entitled "Friday Veepstakes," and want to continue some thoughts on this topic now that we are closing in on the actual announcement of the selection.

I generally think that Obama's runningmate will come from the U.S. Senate or among those who ran for president. These groups compose people that Obama has been closest to during his tenure in Washington and on the campaign trail. The exception to this being Wesley Clark.

There is so much speculation as to which VP nominee brings the most to the table in terms of electoral votes. However, the most successful VP picks in recent years (Gore, Cheney) were selected less on their ability to bring their home states and more so based on the reflection of the candidate at the top of the ticket. In Bill Clinton's case, he chose Gore as a partner, in Bush Jr.'s case, he chose Cheney as a henchmen counselor.

Chris Cilliza makes a good observation today in that any pick from the US Senate should likely come from a state with a Democratic Governor, lest Obama risk losing a supporter in the Senate due to a subsequent Republican appointment to the vacant seat. Because if you want to reach a super-majority in the upper chamber, pilfering your own votes doesn't help. And while getting to a 62-seat majority is not really possible in 2008, the Obama campaign is astute enough to look down the road at 2010 - particularly if he wants some legislative homeruns heading into a 2012 re-elect.

This hurts the case for Indiana's Evan Bayh who hails from a state with a Republican Governor. True, that Governor has a decent challenge to his re-election, but there's no way to know the outcome of that race in advance.

The other is the case of Governor Tim Kaine, but the polling shows Obama to already be competitive in Virginia on his own. Add to that, the additional coverage that former Virginia Governor and current Senate nominee Mark Warner will receive as the DNC convention keynote speaker, adding Kaine may not be necessary. But most importantly, Kaine's personally is known to hold pro-life views, which will hurt among women - and particularly Clinton - voters.

Finally, given the stir of events taking place between Russia and Georgia (that's the country, not the state - but you knew that) this would seem to heighten the already existent need for a runningmate with foreign policy credentials. Exit: Kathleen Sebelius.

Having mapped out these options, that brings us to Mr. Super's pre-convention VP "short list." Listed alphabetically and in no particular order of preference. As always, these opinions are worth only what they cost - which is nothing - but maybe provide some fun and insight for the weekend.

Joe Biden, Senator from Delaware. Foreign policy experience and his state shares media markets with Philadelphia. Plus: he can be a hell of an attack dog for the campaign.

Wesley Clark, Retired General. Steals McCain's thunder on military expertise. Plus: he has a higher rank - uh!

Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York. Ultimate party unity. Plus: messes with that whole "Operation Chaos" theory.

Chris Dodd, Senator from Connecticut. Experienced and inoffensive white guy. Plus: he speaks Spanish!

Max Baucus, Senator from Montana - WILD CARD. (Note: wild cards are often included with no merit whatsoever and because the author cannot think of a fifth person. Plus, in the event that the wild card does become a surprise pick, I reserve the right to claim "I told you so!" at a later date, no matter how outrageous it may seem).

But my money is still on Biden.