John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Thoughts About The VP Selections

Posted on August 18, 2008



            So, according to the latest news, the Obama campaign is going to pick one of three possible candidates to be his running mate, sometime later this week.  He was probably waiting for Michael Phelps to quit winning gold medals so his pick could get some news coverage. 


            John McCain will probably follow with his own pick the week after, smack in the middle of the Democratic convention.  Not great timing, but an interesting piece of cross-programming nonetheless.


            I think Obama will pick Joe Biden and McCain will then pick either Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty.


            Obama’s first floated the name of Tim Kaine as a possible running mate, but Kaine’s inexperience and pro-life position made him less attractive the more Democratic activists thought about it.  Evan Bayh was the next victim of torture by trial balloon, but his early support for the Iraq War (he thought he was going to run for President and he was trying to be prudent) garnered about a million opponents who organized themselves on Facebook and told Obama hell no. 


            That leaves Biden, who gives Obama a couple of things that he needs.  Long experience in the Senate (Biden has been there since the Civil War) is one attribute.  Some understanding of Foreign Policy is another place where Obama needs help and Biden can give it.  And Biden is Irish Catholic, and that won’t hurt with a key voting bloc. 


            But Biden is not the perfect candidate.  He has diarrhea of the mouth.  He won’t stop talking ever.  He is condescending.  He is uncontrollable.  He is undisciplined.  And he thinks that he is a lot smarter than Senator Obama.  Finally, he represents Delaware, which is about as important as Wyoming electorally.


            The media wanted Obama to pick Hillary Clinton.  But with Hillary Clinton, you get Bill Clinton, and with Bill Clinton, you get a series of soap operas that neither Obama nor the American people have much time for at the moment.  So, my guess is that Obama goes a different direction than Hillary.


            For McCain, Obama’s selection of Biden sets up some intriguing opportunities.    Two Senators rarely win Presidential elections on the same ticket.  That would seem to suggest that McCain would go a different route.  There was some speculation that McCain might go with a Joe Lieberman or a Tom Ridge.  I just think that the abortion issue is too important to too many Republicans for McCain to take that chance.  That disqualifies Rudy Giuliani


            Rob Portman and Eric Cantor are two good possibilities, although I think Portman might be seen as too close to the Bush family and Cantor might be seen as being too green politically (although he has more real political experience than Obama).


            McCain might be tempted to go with a female running mate.  Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Carly Fiorina and Meg Wittman have all been mentioned as possibilities, although I don’t see any them having a realistic change.


            Three governors remain.  Charlie Crist from Florida, Romney and Pawlenty. 


            I doubt he will pick Crist, although the Florida governor endorsed McCain at precisely at the right time.  But Crist has a brewing financial crisis in Florida he needs to attend to.


 Romney gives McCain critical help on the economic front, is a good campaigner, and has an active network of supporters across the county.  But his religion could be a drag, especially with evangelical voters.  A group of evangelicals have already said that they will not support a ticket that includes a Mormon. 


That leaves Pawlenty, who may or may not be ready for prime time.  His life story is inspiring but largely unknown.  The question is simple about the Minnesota governor. Can he deliver the Midwest for McCain?  If he can, he might be worth the risk.  If not, what is the point?


Selecting a VP is not critical to winning an election. Dan Quayle proved that fact.  But it makes for interesting discussion around the water cooler, especially here in DC as August slips away.  

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