News from the Votemaster
Florida doesn't seem to be moving any closer to a solution to the problem of seating its delegates. The trouble is that everybody is looking at it through a partisan lens: how would the new plan help or hurt my favorite candidate? The Washington Post has a story about it. Some people in Florida just want to seat the (Clinton-oriented) delegation elected Jan. 29. Others want a mail-in revote. Michigan is a horse of a different color. Since Barack Obama was not on the ballot and Hillary Clinton was, nobody believes that was a legitimate election so Michigan has to have some kind of revote. Currently the thoughts are on a caucus.
Talk-show Republican Rush Limbaugh has been strongly urging his listeners, most of whom are Republicans, to register Democratic and vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries because he sees her as a weak general election candidate. Since there is no race on the Republican side any more, many of them are doing exactly this. See this story for details.
Yesterday we had a story on Republican Veep candidates, so for symmetry let's look at the Democrats today, even though the nominee isn't known yet. One obvious possibility is Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama. While there is precedent for primary rivals teaming up (think Kennedy/Johnson in 1960), it is very hard to imagine Clinton accepting the #2 slot. She wants to be President, not Vice President. If Obama wins the nomination, he might ritually offer the slot to her expecting her to say no. With a Democratic President, she would have far more power in the Senate than as Veep. Her model would be Teddy Kennedy. Once he understood he would never be President, he devoted his life to becoming a powerful and influential senator.
Clinton/Obama is plausible but from his point of view, winning the most delegates and then taking the #2 slot seems like an insult. Besides, his chances in 2012 or 2016 are probably just as good if he remains in the Senate. If Clinton wins the nomination and offers him the position and he says no but campaigns hard for her, his supporters will probably accept that. All in all, Neither of these combinations is good for the party. You want to use the #2 slot to lure voters away from the other party, not be forced to use it to keep your own party from tearing itself to bits. Nevertheless, if the convention is completely deadlocked, one of these could be forced.
Assuming it is neither of these, what next? Clearly balancing a ticket headed by a white woman is different from balancing one headed by a black man. One thing is sure though: the Veep will be a white man. Everything else is wild speculation.
If Hillary Clinton is the nominee, the Veep need not be so experienced. If McCain claims she is not experienced, she is going to start reeling off the names of every foreign leader in the world she is first name terms with, every country she has traveled to in Air Force One, every big shot she entertained in the White House, and more. In truth, she probably knows more of the key players in the world than he does and he knows this. So she can think in more conventional terms about geographic or ethnic balance.
One possibility is Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico. His presence on the ticket guarantees New Mexico's five electoral votes, which Bush won in 2004. Furthermore, since he is a Latino (his mother is Mexican) he will cement the Democrats hold on the Latinos, which will help her in a variety of states, including Nevada, Colorado, and probably Florida. Although he was born in Pasadena, California, he grew up in Mexico and can address the Cuban-Americans in Florida in accent-free Spanish. With him on the ticket, McCain may be forced to take Florida governor Charlie Crist to hold the state. Richardson also has a huge amount of experience, having served in the House, in the cabinet, as ambassador to the U.N., and as governor. Richardson is Catholic, and that might also help in some states. His main drawback is that he is not a very good campaigner.
Another possible ticketmate for Clinton is former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack. He is very close to the Clintons and endorsed her back in March 2007. He is a likeable, if bland, kind of guy, and well known in the Midwest. He brings in Iowa's seven electoral votes, which Bush took in 2004. He might also be able to bring in neighboring Missouri's 11 electoral votes. If he could pull in those two, he'd be worth having for that alone.
Another strong Clinton supporter is four-star general Wesley Clark. He is from Arkansas, a state Clinton can win on her own, but when McCain trumpets his military experience, she can then counter with "I've got a guy here who fought a war (Bosnia) and won it quickly. You and Bush have bungled this one so it is time for a ticket with someone who knows how to fight and win wars."
What about Obama's choices? He is probably in greater need of someone with military or foreign policy experience than Clinton since he has none himself. But he can't pick an old-style backroom politician--it hurts his image as a reformer. Probably his best choice is Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), a much-decorated Marine who fought in Vietnam. When McCain touts his experience in the Navy, Obama gets to reply: "You served honorably in the Navy; I respect and admire that. But I've got a guy here who ran the Navy." Webb was Reagan's Secretary of the Navy, a fact sure to pull in many Republican-leaning independents. Webb has been married as much as Rudy Giuliani, but it is unlikely McCain will bring that up or the sordid details of his own divorce will be all over the front pages. Webb got a lot of publicity for standing up to President Bush at the reception for new senators in January 2007. Bush, knowing Webb's son is serving in Iraq came over to him and said: "How's your boy?" Webb curtly replied: "I'd like to get them out of Iraq." Bush then snapped: "That's not what I asked you." This exchange got Webb a lot of credibility from people who don't like the war in Iraq, a clear majority of the country now. Webb's biggest drawback is that although Virginia governor Tim Kaine (D) will appoint a Democrat to replace Webb, there may not be a Democrat strong enough to beat former senator George "Macaca" Allen in the resulting special election. Unless Kaine appoints himself, but that is unlikely because Virginia's lieutenant governor is a Republican.
Obama could also choose Wesley Clark, even though he has supported Hillary Clinton all along. Still, he is a four-star general and can hit McCain on military issues. Actually, Obama could turn his lack of military knowledge into a plus. He could point out that when former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki said that it would take hundreds of thousands of troops to pacify Iraq, Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld overruled him. Obama could say: "I know I am no military expert and won't be so quick to overrule our top generals on questions of how to fight a war."
Another possibility is Ohio's Gov. Ted Strickland. The goal here is to carry Ohio, obviously. Stickland could also be Clinton's Veep. His main drawback is his age. He's 66.
Now let us turn to the Democratic governors, always a good talent pool, especially with a senator at the head of the ticket. Here's the list.
No new polls today.
Here are the delegate totals from various news sources rounded to integers (Democrats Abroad has 22 delegates, each with 1/2 vote). The sources differ because in most caucus states, no delegates to the national conventions have been chosen yet, just delegates to the district, county, or state convention. Also, all sources try to count the PLEOs (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) and unpledged delegates, who also get to vote at the convention. When different reporters call a PLEO and hear "Well, I like Hillary, but Barack has his charms too" they may score it differently.
Needed to win: Democrats 2025, Republicans 1191.
Here is another source for delegate totals.
-- The Votemaster