Friday, February 22, 2008


In today's Fix, Chris Cillizza provides an interesting run-down of potential nominees for vice-president.


* John Edwards: The former North Carolina senator's endorsement remains the biggest "get" in the ongoing battle between Obama and Clinton. On one level, he seems like a natural fit as Obama's No. 2; the two were passionate voices for change in the race and both put a refusal to accept money from special interests at the core of their campaigns. Edwards is also still a relatively young man and would help Obama make a generational argument against McCain. Why wouldn't Edwards be the pick? His six years in the Senate don't help Obama address voter concerns about experience.

* Tim Kaine: Kaine, the governor of Virginia, has long been The Fix's dark horse pick to be Obama's running mate. Not only was he among the first major elected officials to back Obama, he hails from a potential swing state. Also, Kaine's deep faith (and willingness to speak about it on the campaign trail) could help the party's outreach to moderate and independent voters. Like Edwards, Kaine has very limited experience in foreign affairs, however.

* Kathleen Sebelius: Sebelius is the hot name right now among Democratic insiders buzzing about an Obama pick. Sebelius is currently in her second term as the governor of Kansas - one of the most Republican states in the country. While the idea of the Democratic ticket carrying Kansas is somewhat far fetched (Lyndon Johnson was the last Democrat to do so way back in 1964), picking Sebelius would add to the historic nature of the Democratic ticket and draw huge amounts of media attention. Plus, Sebelius may have an intangible going for her: Obama's mother is a native Kansan.

* Jim Webb: Webb is a beloved figure among the liberal left who all but drafted him into his 2006 upset victory over Sen. George Allen (R). And he has the military credential few can match as a decorated Marine during Vietnam. His biggest asset and potential liability seems to lie in his unorthodox approach to politics. Webb is blunt to the point of awkwardness. Voters often love it, but such straight shooting may not make an ideal veep pick.

* Tony Zinni: Zinni is not only a high ranking military officer(he served as a Marine for nearly four decades and was the head of U.S. Central Command), but he also is a longtime opponent of the war in Iraq. His foreign policy chops are tough to question and his opposition to the war jibes nicely with Obama's own position. Given the likelihood of McCain as the Republican nominee, Obama might well opt for Zinni (or some other military man) to blunt charges that he is naive when it comes to foreign policy and national security.


* Charlie Crist: Less than two years after winning election as the governor of Florida, Crist is already being talked up in Republican circles as a potential VP. (The St. Petersburg Times even has a Charlie Crist veep-o-meter measuring his chances. In retrospect, McCain's win in Florida was the tipping point in his bid for the nomination, and that victory was fueled in no small part by a last-minute endorsement from Crist. One strike against Crist is that he isn't regarded by movement conservatives as one of them.

* Jon Huntsman Jr.: Huntsman, the governor of Utah, is the dark horse pick of this list. His original endorsement was seen a major coup for McCain - Huntsman is Mormon, thus his support was seen as a slap at Mitt Romney. Huntsman also has significant chops among the Reagan/Bush crowd; he served in both Bush administrations and was a staff assistant in the Reagan White House in the early 1980s. Did we mention he is the son of the wealthiest man in Utah?

* Tim Pawlenty: The two-term Minnesota governor has to be considered the frontrunner at the moment to be McCain's pick. He hails from the electorally important Midwest, is young enough to balance concerns about McCain's age, and he stuck by the Arizona senator in the darkest days of the campaign. The criticism that Pawlenty is an unknown on the national stage may, in fact, be an argument in his favor - voters won't bring any preconceived notions about him to the ticket. Never forget that one of the guiding principles in picking a VP is to find someone who is comfortable being seen but not heard. Want more about the man they call "Tpaw"?

* Mark Sanford: If Tpaw is the top choice these days, Sanford isn't far behind. Term-limited out of office in 2010, Sanford is young (47) and the rare Republican who can bridge the chasm between social and economic conservatives. Sanford was an early endorser of McCain during the latter's 2000 presidential candidacy and, even though he stayed neutral this year, retains a good relationship with McCain. Fiscal conservatives -- led by the Club For Growth -- LOVE Sanford and have already begun lobbying on his behalf.

* John Thune: A rising star in the party, Thune is a hero to conservatives for defeating Sen. Tom Daschle (S.D.) in 2004. He also hails from the Plains -- a potentially competitive area with Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin up for grabs. Thune, like Sanford and Pawlenty, is in his 40s, helping McCain offset
any concerns about his age.

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