early and often

Picking a Vice-President: Not As Simple As You Think


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This presidential race is so gripping that even possible V.P. choices have people talking. Over the weekend, John McCain hosted three obvious veep candidates at his ranch for a totally friendly, nonpolitical hangout (if you believe McCain). The Arizona senator and Barack Obama may both be considering Mayor Bloomberg, as our own John Heilemann writes in this week’s magazine. And, of course, there are reports that some combination of Hillary and Bill Clinton is pushing for a “dream ticket.” While political Neanderthals labor under the false assumption that vice-presidential candidates should be chosen for their ability to carry a swing state, there are actually much larger issues at play.

• David Brooks doesn’t think the candidates should pick their vice-presidents based on how much they can help in an election (they rarely make a difference), but on how much they can help govern successfully once in office — which would help the president get reelected. [NYT]

• Josh Patashnik says the real focus should be on whether the vice-presidential candidate could be one of the major faces of the party for years and, eventually, a successful presidential candidate. And so, count Hillary Clinton out — she’s already a major figure. [Plank/New Republic]

• Reihan Salam likes Virginia senator Jim Webb as Obama’s V.P. not only because of his electoral advantages, but because he’s proven himself to be a “masterful legislative tactician.” He was not only able to pass legislation expanding educational benefits for GIs, but outmaneuvered McCain at the same time. [Atlantic]

• Jason Zengerle wonders whether Webb is too much of an individual to be a suitable number two, noting that Webb resigned as Reagan’s secretary of the Navy after “clashing with his boss.” [Plank/New Republic]

• Steve Chapman dismisses three of McCain’s rumored veep possibilities — Mitt Romney, Charlie Crist, and Bobby Jindal — because of their lack of national-security experience and overall thin resumes. If it’s dangerous to “entrust our security to a neophyte” like Obama, then why pick a vice-president with the same flaw? Chapman proposes South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham for McCain and former Nebraska senator Bob Kerrey for Obama. [Reason]

• Andrew Sullivan disagrees with Chapman’s picks: Graham, like Crist, has a “single problem” (he’s not married), and Kerrey “could drain the life out of Mardi Gras.” [Atlantic]

• Peter S. Canellos compares McCain picking Bobby Jindal to the movie studios using Shia LaBeouf to offset an aging Harrison Ford. He notes that the old-young pairing has worked for the GOP before, with Eisenhower-Nixon and Bush-Quayle. [Boston Globe]

• Robert Novak calls Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius “perhaps the leading prospect to become Barack Obama’s running mate” and the “pro-choicers dream veep,” because she’s made herself a fervent advocate for abortion rights in a red state, while maintaining the image of a moderate. [WP]

• Chris Cillizza thinks being attacked by Novak, a staunch conservative, will help Sebelius raise her profile and prove her Democratic bona fides to the party base. [Fix/WP]

• Political nerds can decide for themselves what really matters in a vice-president by playing MSNBC’s Republican veepstakes game. [MSNBC] —Dan Amira

Related: Heilemann: Obama and McCain Both Eye Bloomberg for Veep

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Picking a Vice-President: Not As Simple As You Think