Tuesday, June 17, 2008

THINKING ABOUT McCAIN'S VP PICK

I was driving home last night as Gore was introducing Obama to a raucous crowd in Detroit. Obama draws large, raucous crowds. McCain draws two dozen old ladies to the fire hall. McCain is going to have to use his VP selection, and his VP selection process, to fire up some enthusiasm.

I would bet that one of the following is going to be his pick, and I would hope that he is in no great hurry to make the pick. In this case, the more focus groups and polling, the better. He has to get this right.

COLIN POWELL
He's been out of Washington for a while and can come in fresh. He is respected across the political spectrum. He bucked neocon thinking on more than one occasion. He is a statesman, knowledgeable, accomplished and well spoken. However, liberals will be quick to point out that he went to bat for the evil Bush at the U.N. and parroted Bush's lies. Powell is a career military guy but no fan of war. He plays up McCain's only solid advantages, in foreign policy and political experience. He's at least as black as Obama and a known quantity to whites. I think he strikes the right balance. Con: He's 71, and does not bring the youth to the ticket that McCain's advisors might think he needs. Hillary has already proven that running on experience vs. change is a losing proposition, although the conventional wisdom is that experience is more of a positive in the general election, and moreover Hillary didn't really have the experience that she claimed to have. Powell can pay tribute to McCain's service to his country in a way that McCain himself cannot.

JOE LIEBERMAN
This would be the bold, attention-grabbing pick. It would bolster McCain's bipartisan reputation, which would play well to moderates but further antagonize conservatives. McCain has been photographed with Lieberman more often than with anybody but his wife. They seem to be friends and cut of the same cloth. I think the two would enjoy campaigning together, and that itself would bring some much-needed vitality to the campaign. Lieberman is sober and likable despite being totally out of whack with conservatives on social issues. He is a familiar name and face, having run with Gore and flipped to Independent in his last campaign. He is a maverick, and I think Americans (maybe just men) like that. As the lone dissenter, he emphasizes the cut-and-run policies of the left that most Americans (men?) inherently despise if you cast them as surrender/choosing to lose rather than sparing American lives and treasure. He has never grossly offended anyone but Democrats. He can deliver a Zell Miller-type indictment of what the Democratic Party has become at the GOP convention.

MITT ROMNEY
I just don't think it's Mitt's time. Conservatives came around to him only because they had to when Thompson was a no-show. Politically McCain needs to win it in the middle, by being who he is, and count on the right to turn out for him because they can't bear the thought of an Obama presidency. I think moving right is a mistake for McCain. The hard red states will remain red; he needs Ohio and Wisconsin and New Hampshire and Minnesota where Independents carry the day. We'll see Mitt again next time around and I don't like his chances then either.

CONDI RICE
She is intelligent, articulate, knowledgeable -- and a close ally of Bush. That alone disqualifies her I think. One might argue that he should include her on the short list just to make the point that he is willing to consider qualified blacks and women, but I think even considering a high ranking Bush official on his ticket would be a mistake politically. I don't think she wants the job, although that's what everyone says before they get asked, and then, hmm, it's one short step from the presidency, how can you refuse. I think America is closer to electing an African-American or a woman to the presidency than a scholar. I like her a lot but politically she is the wrong choice.

I have listed them above in my order of likelihood. What I think he should do is pick Lieberman. What I think he will do is pick Gen. Powell as a somewhat safer choice.

Who am I missing? Why am I wrong? Do tell.

2 comments:

Sir Saunders said...

Colin Powell's wife wouldn't let him run in 2000 because she was afraid he would be assassinated (something I fear and hope does not happen to Obama). I don't think his wife will be any less worried now. Powell was never a politician and he was not comfortable with the role of Sec. of State which is why he bowed out in '04. Condi Rice would be a grand pick but I think you are right, he just would not be able to get away from the tag of "she's a Bush operative." I think he's in talk now with Hillary. Think about it, most of Hillary's political commercials during the primary were comparing herself to McCain as a positive (i.e. "I bring a life time of experience, McCain brings a lifetime of experience, Obama brings a speech he gave..."). It would be just like McCain to divide and conquer, and it would give Hillary the chance to become President. She would have to abandon the Dems and I think she's happy to do that after they turned their back on her. Further, she could run as an independent and smile while doing it. Although, I think Joe Lieberman would be a good choice too. Unfortunately, I think he'll wind up picking Charlie Crist as a moderate and to carry Florida, etc.

Tom said...

If I had to guess I would agree with Sir Saunders and say Charlie Crist, what with Florida being an essential state and Crist not being well known enough to be a liability. He can be painted as anything you want.

There are a couple of darkhorse candidates I think deserve attention. JC Watts, the former black Congressman from Oklahoma. He was the 4th ranking Republican in the House but retired to make enough money to send his kids to college. He doesn't negate Obama on race, but with the way political operatives think he might make sense to McCain.

Former Governor Bill Owens from Colorado makes a lot of sense to me too. Colorado is becoming a swing state with the immigrant demographic rising and Owens was a popular governor and strong fiscal conservative. The old timers would say the ticket would lack geographic balance, but that is an old fashioned idea. Clinton/Gore showed that it didn't matter with the double bubba ticket.

In 2004 Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsyvania were all within the margin of error and they all have potential Republican candidates popular enough for 1-2% of the vote. Pawlenty, Engler or Ridge could make the difference in a state the Dems must win.

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