Weekly Wednesday Presidential Politics - 8/20/08
On Monday, over at Presidential Politics for America, I used the Democratic Convention speaker schedule to eliminate all but three scheduled speakers (Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson) from VP contention. I then added one unscheduled speaker (Wesley Clark) to the list to come up with the final four VP candidates for the Democratic ticket.
A finalist that the media seems hell-bent on pushing is Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, so I should quickly address why he's not on this list. First, next Wednesday, when the Vice-Presidential nominee will formally accept the nomination, the convention will make foreign policy its theme. Tim Kaine has no experience in that area. It would be an awkward fit, and the DNC could easily have avoided this by making Tuesday about foreign policy and Wednesday about the economy or the environment, instead of vice versa. Another strike against Kaine's chances is Mark Warner, a fellow Virginian, being named as the Convention keynote speaker. It would be highly unorthodox for two Virginians to give the major speech on successive nights (which also eliminated Jim Webb, if he wasn't already eliminated in your mind for other reasons). Finally, Tim Kaine himself has said that he thinks he's been awarded the silver medal of the veepstakes. So there you have it.
This solidified my final four: Bayh, Biden, Clark, and Richardson.
So which of the Final Four will it be? As the speculation continues with the convention a week away, here's a quick look at the pros and cons of each:
Senator Evan Bayh (Indiana)
Pros: Centrist enough for moderate Republicans; Is popular among remaining disenfranchised Clinton supporters; Is a Democrat in a largely Republican state; Serves on Armed Services Committee;
Cons: Too centrist for Democrats?; The least gravitas of the Final Four; Would be spun as a great pick by the pundits, but otherwise won't cause a buzz among the average voter like the others.
Senator Joe Biden (Delaware)
Pros: The expert of the party on foreign policy and international; One of the biggest critics of an unpopular President; Compliments Obama's inexperience; Would perform very well in the VP debate; Has proven presidential aspirations.
Cons: Is vocal enough to turn off a lot of voters; Useless geographically; His selection could be perceived as Obama being too inexperienced, making Biden look like the chaperone of the ticket.
Former General Wesley Clark
Pros: Supreme Commander NATO Allied Forces from 1997-2000; Gravitas like Biden, but much more respected amongst Republicans; Highly decorated officer; Perfect attack dog on McCain for all things military; Assuages fears that Obama is too green.
Cons: No political experience; A beginning Democrat; Like Biden, his VP nomination might imply that Obama is inexperienced.
Governor Bill Richardson (New Mexico)
Pros: Wins over Latino's, crucial in New Mexico and Florida; Executive experience as governor; Helpful knowledge as former Secretary of Energy; Foreign policy experience as U.S. ambassador to the U.N; Congressional experience as former House member.
Cons: Had a stagnant presidential campaign; Lacks a presence in public forums; Unexpected support of Obama over former ally Clinton would look fishy if Richardson is appointed #2; Two minorities on the ticket is playing with fire.
However, shortly after I narrowed it down to four, there has been yet another development. Yesterday, Joe Biden plainly told a group of reporters that he wasn't "the guy." So the Final Four has become the Final Three: Bayh, Clark, and Richardson.
Who next to eliminate?
Well, as unfair and politically incorrect as it may be, it's highly unlikely that the Democrats, when the consensus is that this election is theirs for the taking, will nominate two minorities on the same ticket. A half-black and Latino running together would be an enormous roll of the dice. That eliminates Richardson.
And then there were two...
Senator Evan Bayh and former General Wesley Clark remain. However, the media doesn't even consider Clark a finalist. I don't consider myself media until I get a check in the mail for my work. However, believe it or not, the media has better sources than I do. If nothing is leaking about Clark being vetted, than it's probably not him.
That leaves one. The Democratic vice-presidential nominee will be Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana.
Still, I can't help but wonder "Why not Clark?" Indeed, if I were kaing decisions for the Democrats, Wesley Clark would be my pick to round out the ticket. To see my reasoning, check out Presidential Politics for America tomorrow.
Until next week...