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Jewish World Review March 29, 2000 / 22 Adar II, 5760

Chris Matthews

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Gray for veep and Gore might coast to victory -- IN AMERICA, it's the Democrats who own the coastal real estate west and east.

Meanwhile, the great middle of the country, from the Rockies to the Carolinas, is Republican country.

The fight this November will focus on who controls the industrial states stuck in between: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan.

This is the disputed territory of partisan America. Democratic and Republican strategists now eye this area with the same mix of lust and jealousy that militant Indians and Pakistanis view Kashmir.

Both want it. Both think they need it. Both believe if the other side gets it, they win the game.

I predict that George W. Bush and his people will play this continental board game in the most obvious way, by picking his vice president from this partisan "Kashmir."

I predict Bush will pick Pennsylvania's governor, Tom Ridge, because of geography, history (he rose from a working-class background to attend Harvard and win a pair of Bronze Stars in Vietnam) and personality (Bush once confessed that he wants a running mate who "likes me." Apparently his fellow governor does).

Gore cannot play the same game for the simple reason that, with the possible exception of Illinois senator Dick Durbin, none of the disputed industrial states boasts a Democrat of sufficient stature to fill Gore's vice presidential shoes. Not Pennsylvania. Not Ohio. Not Michigan.

So the vice president needs to try a different gambit. He needs to win those big states in the upper middle of the country with a ticket that packs a wallop from coast to coast. He needs a veep who, by his current position and political resume, outranks even the man he's running against.

That candidate is Gov. Gray Davis, 58, of California. A graduate of Columbia law, he carries Ivy League credentials, as does Gore. He matches Ridge's Vietnam-won Bronze Star with one of his own. As governor of the country's largest state, Davis leapfrogs Bush's relentless bragging about being governor of the "second-largest state."

Most important, Gore-Davis would carry the heft of a truly continental ticket, a vice president running with the country's No. 1 governor.

For extra credit, a Gore-Davis ticket would provide the Democrats with the party's most formidable fund-raiser. It would make California the immovable anchor of the Gore campaign, turning out a huge Latino vote for the chance to make Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante the state's top executive.

Most important, it would make Al Gore look like a political heavyweight by refusing to fight over a single portion of the 2000 electoral map, the industrial Midwest, but instead choosing to sweep the board.

JWR contributor Chris Matthews is the author of Hardball. and hosts a CNBC show of the same name. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


03/27/00: The secret life of a CIA wife
03/22/00: 'We're suckers for underdogs'
03/20/00: Bush's California dream vs. reality
03/06/00: Scary Gore vs. hopeful Bush
03/06/00: McCain's appeal to 'Reagan Democrats'
03/01/00: John McCain fits a hero's profile
02/28/00: Grading the American presidents
02/25/00: Clinton remains No. 1 issue
02/23/00: Will Ross Perot aid POW McCain?
02/18/00: McCain faces fury of GOP establishment
02/17/00: Citizen Springer
02/14/00: McCainia and the frisky independents
02/07/00: A prime-time primary for California
02/02/00: Clinton's final campaign: Take the blame
01/31/00: Which GOPer is willing to pay for his positions?
01/27/00: John McCain's gay radar
01/25/00: This time, candidates get 'authenticity' check
01/18/00: AIDS dooms 1 in 4 in tiny Swaziland
01/13/00: Complacency might be the campaign key
01/10/00: A choice, not an echo
01/06/00: The role of a lifetime
01/03/00: Dangers in Gore's dirty war
12/30/99: Churchill's fighting words saved the century
12/28/99: Candidate Gore's separation anxiety
12/17/99: Catch 22: Leading candidates don't lead
12/17/99: New Democratic leader on the horizon
12/15/99: Is Hillary clueless?
12/08/99: Taking Buchananism to the streets
12/03/99: Why are we so obsessed with 'spin'?
12/01/99: Donald Trump, 'Sinatra of Steel'
11/29/99: Why AlGore will be our next president
11/23/99: After the fall
11/17/99: Our conveniently forgetful president
11/15/99: Next president: Male, WASP, self-selected
11/10/99: Backroom Bill
11/08/99: Please don't feed the 'pander bears'
11/03/99: Battle of the Bubba clones
11/01/99: Pat Buchanan, kamikaze candidate
10/27/99: The year of the woman... voter
10/25/99: The Curse of the Bubba
10/21/99: GOP gives Clinton his finest hour
10/18/99: Clinton's last hurrah
10/13/99: Rough seas for Capt. Ventura
10/11/99: Gore targets Bradley's strength
10/06/99: Bradley's got the right Rx
10/04/99: Buchanan, Churchill and Hitler
09/30/99: Who'll spin political gold in Golden State Gore or Bradley?
09/27/99: Here's a millennial checklist for candidates
09/22/99: The biography battle
09/20/99: Buchanan's new book is a must-read
09/15/99: Don't rule out Beatty
09/13/99: The man with the sun on his face
09/08/99: W. vs. Jr. on dope and the draft
The FALN: Hillary's Willie Horton
08/26/99: Bill's guilt fuels Hill's race
08/25/99: The seemingly inexhaustible strength of America's free enterprise
08/23/99: GOP candidates are weak also-rans
08/16/99: Bubba on Bubba
08/11/99: Hillary's agonizing attempts to understand
08/09/99: With warm regards, Richard Nixon
08/04/99: Weicker: real third party is on the Left
08/02/99: Dubyah's last hangover
07/27/99: Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh; capitalism is gonna win

© 2000, NEA