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Jewish World Review
July 1, 2008
/ 28 Sivan 5768
In This Year's VP Search, Boring Is Better
I do not know exactly whom Barack Obama and John McCain will select as their running mates, but I do know this: They will be dull.
They will be safe choices, and not just because of the old rule that the person in the second spot should never overshadow the nominee.
That is not the problem this year. The presumptive nominees of both parties are so high profile that they cannot be overshadowed.
But this also means they do not have to pick a running mate that will add "excitement" to the ticket.
As hard as it is to believe now, in 1996 Bob Dole chose Jack Kemp because Kemp was supposed to add "pizzazz" to the ticket. (By the time it was over, I don't think even Jack Kemp thought Jack Kemp had added pizzazz to the ticket.)
And in 2000, Al Gore thought Joe Lieberman, the first Jewish vice presidential nominee, would be an exciting choice. (Go figure.)
But this time around, Barack Obama and John McCain don't need an exciting choice in the No. 2 slot. They generate their own excitement. They need a nice, safe choice who will first do no harm to the ticket and second bring something positive to the ticket.
They have a number of choices, of which the following are only a few. On the Republican side, there is:
Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, where the Republican convention will be held this year, who is 47 years old (to McCain's 71) and who was an early supporter of McCain. Could Pawlenty swing Minnesota over to the Republicans if he is on the ticket? Maybe. Which makes him a safe, solid choice.
Rob Portman, former congressman from Ohio, and the former U.S. trade representative and budget director for George W. Bush. Major positive: McCain needs Ohio. Major negative: McCain cannot be seen as George Bush's third term, and Portman may be too closely tied to Bush.
Charlie Crist, governor of Florida, who not only endorsed McCain when he really needed it, but also supports McCain on offshore oil drilling. Crist would be a good defensive choice to keep Florida in the Republican column, because if Obama can pry Florida away from McCain, McCain might have a hard time getting the presidency.
On the Democratic side, there is:
Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia, which may be a very critical state for Obama. Kaine endorsed Obama very early when Obama did not look like a winner. Politicians remember things like that. Kaine also is a Catholic (a former Catholic missionary to Honduras, no less), and while decades ago that was a negative in national politics, it now could be a positive: Catholics are classic swing voters.
Evan Bayh, a U.S. senator from Indiana, who has also been governor of that state, and could possibly put Indiana in play for the Democrats. (Only two Great Lakes states went for the Republican ticket in 2004: Indiana and Ohio.) Major negative: He endorsed Hillary Clinton early.
Kathleen Sebelius, governor of Kansas, who gave a dull response to President Bush's State of the Union address this year (but remember that dull is good). Major advantage: She could help Obama with women. Major disadvantage: Can Obama put a woman on the ticket other than Hillary Clinton and not make it look like a slap in the face?
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© 2008, Creators Syndicate