Friday, August 15, 2008

Veepstakes: The Best and Worst

In its ongoing veepstakes series, the Fix provides an interesting breakdown of the best and worst vice presidential selections in US campaign history.


5. Joe Lieberman (2000): The Connecticut Senator, back when he was still a Democrat, gave a historic feel (because of his faith) to the Democratic ticket and helped Al Gore "win" Florida.

4. Dick Cheney (2000): Surely our most controversial pick but remember that at the time Cheney was seen as giving George W. Bush much-needed gravitas.

3. Walter Mondale (1976): Jimmy Carter was a little known Southern governor about whom many in the Washington establishment had real concerns. In picking Mondale, a veteran insider, Carter not only allayed those doubts but gave himself a boost in national polls.

2. Al Gore (1992): Gore reaffirmed the idea that the election hinged on a generational choice between the youthful Bill Clinton and the aging George H.W. Bush. Gore also went on to reinvent the responsibilities of the vice president.

1. Lyndon Johnson (1960): John F. Kennedy didn't much like Johnson (the feeling was mutual) but knew the Texas senator was the key to winning the South. The pick was made and Johnson delivered his home region.


5. Dan Quayle (1988): Bad press seemed to cling to the Indiana Senator. From mispelling "potato" to his inexplicable war against "Murphy Brown," Quayle never seemed to be able to get out of his own way.

4. Andrew Johnson (1865): Picked by Abraham Lincoln in order to show a unified front to the nation, Johnson came drunk to his own inauguration and promptly insulted any number of dignitaries in attendance with his speech.

3. Thomas Eagleton (1972): Sen. George McGovern (S.D.) picked Eagleton, a Missouri senator, after several more high-profile choices turned him down. It turned out to be a huge mistake as revelations that Eagleton had been hospitalized for depression forced him off the ticket.

2. Aaron Burr (1800): Although not "picked" by Jefferson -- until the Twelfth Amendment was ratified in 1804, the candidate with the second most electoral votes became vice president -- Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton while in office. Nuff said.

1. Spiro Agnew (1968): Richard Nixon spent much of his first term trying to figure out how to kick Agnew, a former Maryland governor, off the ticket in 1972. Agnew did the deed himself in 1973 when he resigned amid federal charges of bribery and corruption.

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