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Friday, May 23, 2008

Democratic Veepstakes - Usual Suspects or Dream Ticket?

George Wenschhof

Although Senator Barack Obama has not yet reached the required number number of delegates needed to secure the Democratic Party nomination, it is a foregone conclusion he will be the Party's candidate for President. Now the immediate attention of the Obama campaign is on who is the best person to be his running mate?

The Obama campaign is publicly focused and rightfully so, on the remaining primaries. However, it is widely reported that James Johnson who conducted the vice president search for Walter Mondale and John Kerry four years ago, will head up the search for the Obama campaign. There is lots of speculation as to who would be the best Vice President candidate to team up with Senator Obama. Here is a quick rundown on the usual suspects:

On the side of experience and moderation is Senator Joe Biden (Del.) who was a candidate for President who dropped out early and is the only previous candidate who has not made an endorsement. He may have come close when he recently defended Obama's foreign policy positions in an article in the Wall Street Journal. As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it is thought Biden would add credibility in foreign relations. Another vice-president candidate along these same lines who is being promoted by moderate democrats is former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, but the "former" works against him - he is just not well known today except for inside the beltway.

If one would take the position that a running mate is needed who will help win the important swing states then Ohio Governor Strickland will be seriously considered along with Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, and Virginia Governor Kaine. Although Strickland, Rendell, and Bayh supported Clinton, all are popular within their states and could make a difference in the general election.

A woman running mate will be seriously considered, especially if Senator Hillary Clinton is not offered the position or she declines it. Women voters make up 53-57% of the Democratic vote and it will be hard to not seriously consider Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

As to wild cards, there is Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Ind.). Hagel has opposed the war in Iraq, and Bloomberg earlier this year flirted with running for President as an Independent. Both would add support to the ticket but it is very doubtful either will be named as the running mate.

A surprise candidate for the slot would be former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Although he served under the Republican George W. Bush administration, it was clear he had differences with Bush in foreign policy. Powell is extremely well respected on both sides of the aisle and his addition to the ticket would make it nearly impossible for the Republicans to attack Obama on foreign policy. William Cohen, former Secretary of State under the Clinton administration is another well qualified candidate for the position.

Mr. Johnson will have his work cut out for him if he is the one who heads up the vice-president search committee for Senator Obama. The candidates listed above and many not mentioned, all bring qualities and it will be difficult to arrive a selection.

All of which brings us back to the selection of Senator Hillary Clinton as the vice-president candidate, thereby creating the "dream ticket" many Democratic voters would like to see. Many pundits have felt that after all the acrimony involved in the closely contested Democratic primary, it would be impossible for Obama and Clinton to run as a team. There is even speculation that many Obama supporters would be angry and disappointed if Clinton was chosen as the running mate.

As one views the qualifications of the potential running mates, it clearly stands out that Senator Clinton would be the best vice-president to run on the ticket with Senator Obama. She has already clearly demonstrated her ability to win large states and swing states during this primary campaign. Also, her support among women voters is unparrelled. There would be no question surrounding her willingness and ability to fight hard to support the policies of Senator Obama and the Democratic Party.

Mr Johnson's work as chair of the search committee could well end up being short-lived if the offer is made to Clinton and the acceptance given. It just makes good sense.

Stay Tuned

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