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Lukewarm Reactions to Favored Obama Veep Candidate


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Veepstakes speculation is hot again, and the name on everybody’s lips is Virginia governor Tim Kaine. Kaine isn’t new on Barack Obama’s list of potential running mates, but his stock has never been this high. And with the Olympics, which would overshadow a veep announcement, approaching and the Democratic convention looming at the end of August, a decision might not be far off. And so the pros and cons of an Obama-Kaine ticket are being closely examined.

• Michael D. Shear and Shailagh Murray write that “Kaine’s staff is providing the background information necessary to allow the campaign to search for potential political land mines.” Kaine would “satisfy many considerations Obama has recently laid out” in an interview with Tom Brokaw: outside-the-Beltway credentials, independent thought, and help in an important swing state. But Kaine, with “no foreign-policy background, and as a first-term governor…may add to voters’ concerns about Obama’s experience.” [WP]

• Marc Ambinder says Kaine, as well as another veep short lister, Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, are “governing choices, not campaign choices.” They won’t generate much enthusiasm and won’t shine in debates, but they’re “solid,” “centrist-in-style,” “Washington outsiders,” and “know how to balance budgets and deal with Republicans.” [Atlantic]

• Ben Smith and Amie Parnes write that Kaine’s supporters claim he could “serve as ambassador” to “four key groups: Virginians, Catholics, working-class white voters, and Hispanics” (he speaks fluent Spanish). But his “lack of foreign-policy and Washington experience” are an “obvious stumbling block.” [Politico]

• Ed Morrissey thinks Kaine’s most important asset is that he “puts Virginia into play for the Democrats, who need to turn a significant red state blue — and Virginia is probably the most likely to switch.” But does he have the “substance it would take to bolster Obama,” or would the Obama campaign appreciate the fact that Obama wouldn’t be “overshadowed by [his] running mate”? [Hot Air]

• Tom Bevan contends Kaine’s lack of foreign-policy experience (or much experience at all) and his unfamiliarity to people outside of Virginia “could potentially be offset if he could deliver Virginia. That’s a very big ‘if,’ of course.” [VP Watch/RealClearPolitics]

• Chuck Todd and friends wonder if Kaine would really make much of a difference in Virginia, “given that Mark Warner and Jim Webb are also campaigning for him and given that Kaine’s geographic strength in the state is fairly similar to Obama’s.” But they also speculate the buzz about Kaine could be the Obama campaign giving “Dem special-interest groupies” one last chance to object to Kaine before making it official. [First Read/MSNBC]

• Nate Silver also thinks Kaine “may not be of much help to Obama in Virginia.” He’s not particularly popular, getting about 50 percent favorability numbers, and “does not have any one signature, standout accomplishment as governor.…The home-state V.P. bounce is small enough to begin with,” so with Kaine “it may be nonexistent.” But Kaine “comes across as very warm. Empathetic. Normal guy. Not politician-y.” And, frankly, he “has below-average looks.” This could all help offset the perception that Obama is “aloof and arrogant — or messianic, in the right’s favorite phrasing.” [FiveThirtyEight]

• Mike Allen notes that Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Tim Kaine, and Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, are all Harvard Law grads. [Playbook/Politico]

• Adam Nagourney, meanwhile, finds “mounting evidence that Mr. Obama’s interest in Mrs. Clinton for [a running mate] has faded considerably, if, in fact, she ever really was a strong contender to be on the ticket with him.” Clinton hasn’t been asked for documents, and now herself feels there is little chance she’ll be chosen. [NYT]

• Marty Peretz breathes a sigh of relief and says Obama would have to “lie awake trying to figure out what tricks Hillary and Bill would play upon him, and no sane
presidential nominee would ever do that.” [Spine/New Republic] —Dan Amira

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

Lukewarm Reactions to Favored Obama Veep Candidate