Barack Obama may name his running mate any day now. Yesterday his campaign launched an online "Barack's VP: Be the First to Know" initiative allowing supporters to sign up to get an email or text message as soon as the decision is made.
Although conventional wisdom has the Obama and McCain campaigns waiting for a couple of weeks until the Olympics are over, that may or may not happen.
The candidate of change, using his cyberspace army, may announce next week once he returns from his Hawaii vacation. The GOP's erstwhile maverick may pick an opportune time to derail the next surge of the Obama media juggernaut. So, while we know the running mate choices are creeping up on us, we wait to see when they'll be sprung.
Factoring in the guessing game, EbonyJet.com decided to run its Vice President Fantasy Draft today, featuring revised choices by some of us who had chosen earlier. My June 2 choice of Colin Powell has been jettisoned, reduced to a real world selection. You can check out my choice, along with those of Eric Easter and Brian Gilmore, below or by going to Ebonyjet.com where there's are other opinions on other things.
RETHINK: The VP Fantasy Draft
August 12, 2008
Months ago when Monroe Anderson, Brian Gilmore and I did our Fantasy Cabinet Picks for Barack Obama, we always knew that we’d have to make an adjustment once the dust settled a bit. And then, maybe not.
Now that we’re only days away from a final decision of Obama’s choice for VP, we decided to see, knowing what we know now, how committed we are to the choices we made in May.
My initial pick was Virginia Senator Jim Webb, with the caveat that I actually preferred former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, but thought his current run for Senate might negate consideration.
Since then, Jim Webb has taken himself out of the running and the buzz has been around current Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. So, right state but wrong choices? I’m not so sure.
I like Tim Kaine, he’s a nice, decent sort of fellow and a popular governor, but let’s get the story straight – Tim Kaine won largely on the coattails of Mark Warner. Prior to Warner’s win, Virgina was solidly Republican. The strategy and groundwork it took to turn a red state blue was done by Warner and it’s that kind of campaigning skill that Obama needs.
I still think Mark Warner is far and away the best partner for Obama, emphasis on “partner.” If Obama is going to win, he’s going to do it mostly on his own accord, though Warner brings a lock on Virginia and a spillover effect into West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and North Carolina. Certainly Obama has to win, but really it’s his race to lose. I’m much more concerned with who can help him govern. Again, Mark Warner is the best choice, having been a hands-on governor known for winning broad Republican support and balancing an extremely complicated state budget,
To make this happen, the Democratic Party will have to find a replacement for Warner in the Senate race, and Warner will have to make peace with the possibility that a loss as VP also loses him the opportunity to grab the almost guaranteed Senate seat he’s been coveting for a decade. On the other hand, the fact that Warner already has a campaign and fundraising organization makes him even more attractive.
I know, I know, what about Joe Biden? Call me crazy but two senators on one ticket just scares me. It’s too top-heavy and the job of senator is too far divorced from the people on the ground. Such a pick would only help the Republicans make the case that the Democrats are running an elitist campaign.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve both worked for and donated money to past Warner campaigns. But this is an objective pick, which is more than I can say for a lot of inside –the- Beltway types calling for Warner because they know they’ll have access to his inner circle.
VP Pick: Mark Warner
Monroe, Brian - your turn.
Okay, Richard Gephart was way off as VP. At the time, I was thinking Missouri, but that is overblown now because there are other states in play besides Missouri, and Missouri might have been in play even though Gephart is not on the ticket. Not to mention the fact that he has been way off the world stage for too long.
So here are a few theories I am stuck with on how Obama will pick his guy.
The Cokie Roberts Choice:
ABC News commentator Cokie Roberts says he has to pick a dull white guy. This might mean Tim Kaine. Kaine is not exactly exciting and he has another plus working for him – he’s from Virginia. Virginia is the slam dunk state for Barack Obama. If he wins, Virginia, McCain is likely in trouble.
The Kennedy Choice
Obama, of course, admires John F. Kennedy. JFK is famous for picking Lyndon Johnson who delivered Texas for Kennedy and the election. This again might point to people like Tim Kaine of Virginia or another high profile Virginia politician like Jim Webb. Webb’s military background makes him a great, though controversial choice. Ted Strickland of Ohio would fall into this category as would Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.
The Godfather Choice
Don Corleone famously told his son, Michael in the film, “The Godfather,” to keep your friends close, your enemies, closer. It is great advice. Two words then: Hillary Clinton.
Who he will choose:
Barack Obama is a man of his word, most of the time. He says geography doesn’t matter; it is leadership. This eliminates the Kennedy choice. Tim Kaine is a dull white guy but probably too dull. Hillary Clinton is not a dull white guy; she is smart, clever, tough, but a sort of dull white woman despite her high profile and her skills as a politician. Ed Rendell could be the choice here but he is missing something that ties him to Washington, makes him look like an international player.
Thus, Obama will pick Joe Biden of Delaware because Biden is ready to lead, has excellent credentials and is dull enough that Obama won’t be overshadowed.
VP Pick: Joe Biden
A couple of months ago, when I picked my fantasy draft for President Obama, the operative word for me was, well, fantasy. Keeping that in mind, my choice for vice president was Colin Powell. I argued that the retired four-star general would cancel out John McCain’s military advantage. And that as a former presidential cabinet member for both Papa and Junior Bush, Powell was so popular among Republicans, independents and Reagan Democrats that many thought him a more viable candidate in 2000 than George W. I even offered an off-hand—but serious—that “for the nut jobs out there that might be planning an assassination attempt of the nation’s first African American Chief Executive, they’d be forced to think twice.”
But, I knew then as I know now that the regular Democrats aren’t about to let a Republican get that job in the name of change. And, of course, that regular white Americans, Democrat or Republican, weren’t about to vote for a black president and black vice-president—that would be way too much change.
So this time, I’m for real: It won’t be John Edwards.
Seriously, the current short list of names most mentioned for Obama’s running mate are Virginia’s Tim Kaine, Delaware’s Joe Biden and Indiana’s Evan Bayh.
Just two weeks ago, the Washington insiders’ whisper mill had Kaine as the one to beat. Minnesota-born, it was duly-noted that Kaine could help deliver red state Virginia, a feat that might make the difference between Obama being the nation’s first black president or the guy who did way better than the reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Kaine is said to be very compatible with Obama because they both have Kansas roots and they both have Harvard law degrees to decorate the appropriate wall. Kaine was also the first governor outside of Illinois to back Obama.
They aren’t whispering as much as they were last month. My suspicion is because Kaine may be too easy a target for the right-wing fear and smear machine. For one thing, the one-term governor hasn’t governed his state all that well. For another, it’s his name.
There’s a double-digit number of Americans who refuse to believe that Obama’s not a Muslim. An Obama-Kaine ticket would compound the problem with the wing-nut bloggers pointing out that Kaine is not able and that Barack Obama’s middle name is still Hussein.
Biden, on the other hand, shouldn’t be so easily dismissed. He would instantaneously give the ticket foreign policy cred and deflect some of the greenhorn thrust the McCain camp is pushing out there. BUT, Biden, who has been in the senate longer than a bunch of Obama’s most ardent supporters have been alive, doesn’t exactly represent change. AND, Biden is known for sudden outbreaks of foot-in-mouth disease: Remember the Delaware senator’s quote earlier this year that in Obama as a presidential candidate “you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”?
So Bayh is my choice. A former governor, the two-term senator can help deliver his very red state because he’s popular with both Democrat and Republican Hoosiers. As a former Hillary Clinton supporter, he may also help pacify some of the New York senator’s still disaffected backers. And as a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, he brings something to the foreign affairs table.
Bayh’s drawback is that he is so milquetoast that few voters may notice he’s in the game and that he may be unwilling—or unable—to trash talk while throwing some elbows towards Team McCain.
That may be why Bodog, the online gambling site, has 3/2 odds for both Bayh and Kaine. The next closest choice is Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius whose odds are 8/1.
VP Pick: Evan Bayh