23 June 2008

Outside The Box Thinking On VP Choice...

Democrats

Al Gore

Internationally respected, former Vice President Al Gore would add some much needed gravitas to Senator Obama’s ticket. He knows the ins and outs of Washington DC better than most and would send a clear signal that an Obama administration was serious about the threat of climate change.

His recent endorsement of Obama in Michigan played very well for the cameras and the two made a plausible pairing. Senator Obama has since refused to rule out Gore serving as his No2.

But would Al Gore take it? Everyone looks good the night before their wedding as they say. Why would Gore trade in international respect and a fledgling business empire to return to the grubbiness of politics - especially to be No2 again, a role that he found infuriating at times in the Clinton White House.

What’s more, in a very similar respect that having Clinton on the ticket, would Gore not negate Obama’s message of change? He, after all, served for 8 years in Bill Clintons administration and failed to win what should have been an easy election victory for the Democrats in 2000 - a time of booming economic growth and a nation a peace.

Michael Bloomberg

Earlier in the year, Mayor Bloomberg had consistently been touted as a potential presidential candidate in his own right. The one time Democrat turned Republican turned Independent has been widely admired for his tenure in office and could have helped establish a tradition of the New York Mayors office being a spring board for presidential ambitions.

What is more, the business mogul mayor would bring to the race his multi billion dollar fortune to fund his (or anyone elses?) campaign.

However, those days have now passed, and Mayor Bloomberg has ruled out making an independent bid for the White House.

Since then he has been vigorously courted by both Barack Obama and John McCain = both of whom have made the support of independents the bed rock of their campaigns.

Selecting Bloomberg would be seen as an attempt to solidify both men’s cross party appeal and could put New York in to play for the Republicans.

Bill Bradley

2000 presidential hopeful Bill Bradley gave the presumptive nominee Vice President Al Gore somewhat of a scare by running strongly in the early state primaries.

The former professional basketball player and US Senator received several high profile endorsements during the campaign and ran to the left of Gore on most key issues. He also raised large amounts of money giving him a deep war chest. However, he ultimately floundered, in part because he was overshadowed by Senator John McCain's far more attention-gaining, but ultimately unsuccessful, campaign for the Republican nomination; McCain had stolen Bradley's "thunder" on several occasions.

Bradley also failed to win two early primaries. He was much embarrassed by his two to one defeat in the Iowa caucus, despite spending heavily there, as the unions had pledged their support for Gore. He then lost the New Hampshire primary 53-47%, which ended any hope of him making up ground to Gore. Bradley finished a distant second during each of the primaries on Super Tuesday.

Since his unsuccessful run in 2000 he has laregely stayed out of the limelight to endorse Howard Dean in 2004 and Barack Obama in January this year.

Did you know - Bill Bradley has a far wider peripheral vision that most people. While most people's horizontal field covers 180 degrees, his covered 192 degrees. Vertically most people can see 47 degrees upward; Bradley could see 72 degrees.

Caroline Kennedy

Making up one third (or is it one half now Jim Johnson has resigned?) of Senator Obama’s VP vetting squad, Kennedy is the daughter and only surviving child of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

Kennedy is an attorney, editor, and writer. She is one of the founders of the Profiles in Courage Award, given annually to a person who exemplifies the type of courage examined in her father's Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name.

In addition, Kennedy has represented her family at the funeral services of former Presidents Ronald Reagan in 2004 and Gerald Ford in 2007, and at the funeral service of former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson in 2007.

Caroline Kennedy also represented her family at the dedication of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas in November 2004.

She would bring with her unbeatable name recognition and the power to further add to Obama’s image as the second (or is it third, JFK, RFK, BHO?) coming of the Kennedy’s. The beginning of the restoration of the Kennedy dynasty - tied directly to Obama’s star - would send political hacks into a frenzy.

What’s more, Senator Edward Kennedy has been an avid and vocal supporter of Obama’s campaign and there is a great deal of sentiment for Senator Kennedy following his recent health troubles.

It would also satisfy those pressuring Obama to select a woman - without looking like he has merely settled for any woman who was not Hillary Clinton.

What’s more, this would not be unheard of. Dick Cheney was asked by then Governor of Texas, George W. Bush to head up the task force to find him a Vice Presidential running mate… before promptly selecting himself for the job.

But being realistic for a second, it won’t happen. Ms. Kennedy is a complete unknown political quantity, she has no political track record and no foreign policy experience to speak of.

Colin Powell

Colin Powell has subtly been making his admiration for Barack Obama known in recent months.

Having been in the eye of the storm as the good soldier serving his Commander in Chief in the run up to the Iraq war, Powell knows better than anyone the controversies and incompetence’s of the Bush administration. He is still widely respected by the American public for hisi military service and the tactful pressure he applied on President Bush.

On the down side, this is the man who stood centre stage at the United Nations proclaiming to the world that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction - the pretext for the war in Iraq. The very same war which Barack Obama has vehemently opposed from the start.

Additionally, is America ready for one, let alone two African Americans on a ticket?

Nancy Pelosi

Now her position as the most powerful skirt in the land (not my quote!) has been secured with the demise of Hillary Clinton, why not take one step closer to the presidency by becoming No2 (she is currently third in line to the presidency in her position as Speaker of the House)?

She is the second most high profile woman in Democratic politics and is the first female Speaker of the House.

But quite frankly, would she want to leave the power of the House and her position as the highest ranking female in Government to take up the Vice Presidency - a position that is subordinate and that has no real guarantee of any solid powerbase?

I am sure she would help to deliver the, ahem, older female demographic that Obama has typically struggled with - after all, she is a self proclaimed grandmother in a Chanel suit.

But apart from that does she bring much to the ticket? She represents a Northern Californian constituency, hardly a November battle ground.

And she already has her place in history as the first female speaker of the house. Why trade in (trade down?) for the Vice Presidency - a position that probably carries less weight that the speaker of the house?

John Kerry

The 2004 Democratic presidential candidate received the highest percentage of votes of any losing candidate challenging a sitting President in American history.

He harboured ambitions to complete his quest for the White House in 2008 until an ill timed and poorly delivered joke during the 2006 midterms about those without an education getting stuck in Iraq ended his chances.

Even before this I don’t think his second round of presidential ambitions would have got far. 2008 is very different to 2004, with the strongest field of Democratic candidates being fielded for a generation, In the era of constant media saturation and scrutiny, people rarely get a second chance when there is something new and more exciting around the corner.

Although there is a of anger about the treatment of Kerry - a decorated Vietnam war veteran - in the swift boat scandal.

Kerry’s Vietnam record would contrast nicely with that of John McCain’s - although it would invite questions over his record of service as was the case in 2004.

What is more, Massachusetts, Kerry’s home state is not a competitive state meaning his geographical appeal is strictly limited.

I’m not sure Kerry was seen as a particularly effective candidate in 2004, often appearing wooden and disconnected.

Republicans

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Only in America could a pot smoking, serial groping (allegedly), Austrian born body building movie star become Governor of the largest state in the USA and fifth largest economy in the world. It is a testament to his political skills that he has been able to recover from his first term difficulties to become a popular second term governor with a reputation for tackling difficult economic issues in a bi-partisan manner and reaching out to those typically disaffected with the Republican Party.

However, an American citizen who was not born in the United States is ineligible to become President. Would John McCain risk handing the White House to a Democrat (let alone Nancy Pelosi) if he were to die in office. Speaker of the house - is third in line to the Presidency.

Condi Rice

The first female African American Secretary of State is as glamorous and poised as she is smart and shrewd. She has won many international admirers with her manner and charm.

The selection of Ms. Rice as Veep would make the Democrats ground breaking African American man vs. Woman race look decidedly old hat and would be ‘a game changer’, making a Republican candidate look like the forward thinking progressive choice.

There had also been consistent rumours that Ms. Rice would run for the top job herself, with speculation reaching such a fever pitch that tabloid trash writing Dick Morris even penned a book entitled Condi vs. Hillary, hypothesising that this would be the next big presidential race (how accurate that turned out to be!)

The big problem is, of course, Iraq. There are few who are more associated with the Bush administrations Iraq policy than Condi Rice. Having served throughout both of President Bush’s administrations she has been involved with the planning and management of the invasion and occupation from the beginning.

With John McCain attempting to distance himself from the toxic ratings of George Bush, having Rice on the ticket would unnecessarily remind the voters that he is an Iraq war supporting Republican who has backed his unpopular party in 83% of his Senate votes.

It would be a home run for the Democrats attempting to paint John McCain as a third Bush term.

With so much attention being given to John McCains age and the elevated importance this will give to his Vice Presidential selection, is Rice really the best candidate to reassure nervous potential McCain voters?

Ms Rice’s background before serving as National Security advisor and then Secretary of State has been in academics. She has little known domestic politics experience and has never ran for elected office herself - making her a complete unknown on the campaign stump.

What’s more, Rice is unmarried, which would inevitably lead to speculation about her romantic life- including, I would imagine, her sexuality.

Rudy Gulliani

The one time Republican front runner dropped out of the race with a whimper following his third place showing in the January Florida primary. The huge strategic blunder of skipping all of the early states meant Rudy was left struggling for votes against Ron Paul in 5th place in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But out of the ashes of his spectacular implosion, Rudy has become an active surrogate for John McCain.

His liberal views - pro choice, pro civil unions, pro gun regulation would likely infuriate the more right wing Republicans who are already sceptical about John McCains conservative credentials.

Details of his murky business dealings and shady associates came to light during the campaign and would certainly reappear with greater urgency in a general election.

His unconventional marriage track record would also turn off many family value conservatives - he has been married three times and divorced his second wife under very public circumstances.

On the plus side, even though his reputations for 9/11 leadership was tarnished during the primaries - at one point diminishing him to Mr. 9/11 + noun + verb - he is still Americas Mayor who was greaty admired for his steadfast leadership in the aftermath of the terrorist attack - he was eve knighted by the Queen of England!

A President also wants a VP who has signed up whole heartedly to his or her agenda -meaning that in their absence, they can be trusted to continue a certain course of policy and leadership. Had Reagans would be assassin been an inch or two more accurate, Reaganism would have been a political phenomenon lasting all of 2 months. Gulliani and McCain made little secret of their admiration for one another on the campaign and Gulliani has whole heartedly and enthusiastically signed up to Senator McCains agenda.

Gulliani may also be able to help bring New York in to play and would certainly help with McCains appeal to independent voters.

General David Patraeus

This would possibly be the most controversial pick that John McCain could make. He has made no secret of his admiration for the Generals handling of the Iraq surge strategy - something that McCain was calling for almost from the first tank arriving in Baghdad

But the wrath that would reign down from the Move On liberals would be ferocious. General Betray-Us as he was nicknamed by move-on.org would signal McCain was ready to stay in Iraq as long as necessary to achieve his promise of victory.

It would reinforce McCains message that he is a foreign policy authority who can be trusted with the welfare of American troops.

But would his presence on the ticket make Iraq centre stage, rather than the broader issue of national security?

What's more, very little is known about Patraeus’ views on non-military matters and has never run for elected office before. In fact, we don't even know his party affiliation!

It would also be another stark reminder of McCains links to Bush’s Iraq strategy - after all, he was Bush's pick for commander of troops in Iraq.

And my guess will be that instead of reinforcing a message that McCain already trumps Obama on in many peoples mind (National Security), he will want to draft someone on to the ticket who can strengthen his economic credentials - after all, McCain readily admits that economics is not his strong point.

Joe Lieberman

Al Gore’s Vice Presidential pick in the 2000 contest against George W. Bush has since become a strong advocate for Senator McCain's campaign for the presidency.

Since 2000 he has been abandoned by his less hawkish state party and forced to run for re-election to for his Senate seat as an Independent - succeeding in defeating the Democratic Party candidate.

Even so, Lieberman has continued to caucus with the Democratic party and has voted with the party in 81% of Senate votes.

And although he may be too conservative for some Democratic tastes, I can guarantee placing him on the ticket together would soon mobilise an infuriated Republican right to label him a looney liberal for his pro choice, pro gay, pro gun regulation views.

And having seen many, many pictures of McCain and Lieberman together on the campaign trail, I can say that they certainly do not set the world alight with their charisma and spark. What’s more, Mr Lieberman is 66 years old - hardly a youthful balance to John McCain’s 71 years. Between them they would have a combined age of 137 years!

But it would paint McCain as a bi-partisan maverick who is not afraid of reaching (although not too far) across party lines. Could also help bring in the all important jewish vote in Florida...

Jeb Bush

Paying homage to a Republican Party dynasty could potentially mobilise currently sceptical evangelicals to back Mr McCain and complete his transformation from outsider maverick to party establishment candidate.

It would almost certainly give him a large boost in Florida where Jeb was a popular governor and could be used to reach out to the Hispanic community - Jeb’s wife is latino and their photogenic son, George P. Bush would potentially be an asset on the campaign trail.

But lets face it - he’s a Bush, and too many Bushes in a row make a hedge as Jeb once infamously said. And I am sure the Democrats would just be dying to find anything untoward about Jeb’s involvement with brother George’s 527 vote victory in Florida in 2000.

Dick Cheney

OK.......

Just kidding...

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