Friday, August 15, 2008

Veepstakes Cont.

Today’s Fix ranks the prospective vice presidential candidates. As Chris Cillizza points out, the choice for Obama is between “change and experience” - does he opt for someone who reinforces his fresh approach or does he opt for someone well-known who can bring experience to the ticket? For McCain, the choice is between “throwing a short pass or a Hail Mary" – does he opt for the safe pick in someone personally close to him or does he opt for someone unexpected and unorthodox who could shake up the race? The updated rankings:

The Republicans

5. Bobby Jindal: The chatter surrounding the Louisiana governor has died down significantly of late but we still believe that if McCain decides on making a true surprise pick, Jindal's the guy. (Previous ranking: 5)

4. Mitt Romney: On the one hand, Romney seems to make the most sense for McCain -- shoring up the ticket's economic bona fides and helping the nominee in Michigan and New Hampshire. On the other, McCain is a total "gut" politician and, if he trusts his instincts, he's not likely to pick someone with whom he is not close personally. (Previous ranking: 1)

3. Joe Lieberman: Believe it -- the Connecticut Democrat-cum-Independent is very much in the mix for McCain. Why? Lieberman has long been supportive of McCain's position on the war in Iraq and the two men like each other immensely. Plus, picking Lieberman could be spun by pro-McCain forces as yet another example of his commitment to bipartisanship. (Previous ranking: N/A)

2. Tom Ridge: The former Pennsylvania governor is the hottest name in the Republican veepstakes - due in large part to McCain's repeated praise of him and the growing sense that the Arizona Senator is seriously considering a pro-choice pick. Ridge would almost certainly put Pennsylvania more squarely in play and would also allow McCain to double down on the national security message in the general election. (Previous ranking: N/A)

1. Tim Pawlenty: Tpaw returns to the top of the Line thanks to the fact that out of all true "Final Four" lists he checks the most boxes. He is pro-life, has been elected twice as governor in a swing Midwestern state and has a personal friendship with McCain. Is it enough? (Previous ranking: 2)

The Democrats

5. Kathleen Sebelius: There's no question that of the names on this list, Obama feels closest to Sebelius and Tim Kaine. But, is a close personal relationship enough? Sebelius' star has faltered somewhat as some within Democratic circles have come to believe the Kansas governor is not ready for such a big stage. And, can Obama really choose a woman not named Clinton as his vice president? (Previous ranking: 5)

4. Jack Reed: Perhaps the least buzzed about serious vice presidential candidate in history, the Rhode Island senator remains a real option. And, if security is the central theme of the convention, Reed could be a perfect fit: his resume includes a stint in the U.S. Army and service on the Senate Armed Services Committee. (Previous ranking: 4)

3. Tim Kaine: In naming former Virginia governor Mark Warner as the convention keynote speaker earlier this week, the Obama campaign either a) closed the door on Kaine as veep or b) opened the door for a Virginia-centric convention designed to highlight the importance of that swing state. We tend to believe option "a" though the Virginia governor's early support for Obama should not be underplayed as a factor in the final decision. (Previous ranking: 2)

2. Evan Bayh: To the extent there was buzz around Bayh - those words don't usually end up in the same sentence together - it has died down over the last week. Some in the party - especially those on the liberal left - believe picking Bayh would be a sell-out of the principles that won Obama the nomination. The Indiana senator and former governor remains very much in the running, however, thanks to his Midwestern roots, his executive experience and his youth. (Previous ranking: 1)

1. Joe Biden: Biden is peaking at the right time. Barely mentioned at the start of the veepstakes, he is now the favorite to be the pick. Biden's deep foreign policy resume, charisma, blue-collar appeal and debate skills all recommend him. And, the normally loquacious Biden has been stone silent over the last few weeks -- stoking speculation that he is the one. (Previous ranking: 3)

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