Hillary is so dominant a candidate right now that speculation abounds concerning her vice presidential choice.
What kind of candidate will help her win the election with most ease? What will her VP bring to the table – geographic balance?, speaking skills?, debating skills? popularity? fundraising ability?, policy knowledge? electoral votes of home state? base appeal?, media appeal? appeal to independents? personality? star power? intelligence? capacity to lead the country if the worse happens?
Who will it be?
Let’s first consider the anticipated political landscape in 2008.
The Ripublicans are about to nominate a loser. Giuliani is the most popular candidate right now but it is doubtful that in the end he will get the votes of either his children or his wives, let alone the social conservative base of the party. Thompson (Fred, not Tommy) is the latest hope of dissatisfied Ripublicans. As soon as social conservatives search out his record and the other Ripublicans rip into him he will be Drop Dead Fred. Mitt Romney will have trouble getting his dog’s vote. Even Mormons are upset with his Mount of Olives moment. McCain. What can you say about McCain. 2 words – Immigration, Iraq. Savior Newt? Name says it all. [We can’t wait to turn our attention to Hillary’s Ripublican opponent after she wins the Democratic Party nomination.] Losers all.
Bloomberg is running. He will probably make it official in May 2008. Bloomberg will likely organize a simple campaign (no third party) operation by carving the country into 4 sectors (Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest). Each sector will have a director in charge who will report directly to the national office (the very competent Kevin Sheekey). Each state will have 2 employees (with minimal staff) running some sort of astroturf volunteer operation. The real work for these state employees will be to determine saturation levels and efficacy of media campaigns along with helping determine pulsing and rotation schedules as well as interacting with local media. The entire Bloomberg operation will consist of personal appearances but most importantly a massive air war. With a minimum of $1 Billion Sheekey will be able to do the mother of all media buys for the months of September and October (in June!). After Bloomberg purchases his initial media buys will there by any time avails for anyone else?
If Bloomberg does the type of media buy anticipated above Hillary will need to raise a great deal of money from February 5 through the date Bloomberg announces. Hillary and the Democrats will also need to rely a great deal on free media. The VP pick must be someone who will get free media by dint of personality alone.
If Barack Obama ever answers all the many questions he must answer, soon and throughly, enough to get through the vetting process he fits a great many of the VP qualifications. A Clinton/Obama ticket would be the democratic base vote personified. Obama would help enormously with free media. His fund raising skills are without question. Obama’s base appeal is without dispute and would be helpful in solidifying the Democratic base against any erosion by Bloomberg. On the other hand, his lack of experience, seeming inability to function at the national level and in debates raises huge questions about Obama as VP. Further, Hillary will win Obama’s home state with relative ease and the African-American vote will flock to Hillary with great love. Keep an open mind on this one but any more dirty tricks and its bye bye bama.
A Latino, and Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson is the dream candidate. His resume is incredibly impressive which would be a big plus as VP. Already much speculation swirls around a Hill/Bill ticket.
But in the second debate, with Hillary making an effort to be nice to all the Dems onstage, she notably lauded his people skills when asked how she would handle Iran. With “the kind of diplomacy that Bill Richardson did for my husband,” she said. (Richardson was his ambassador to the U.N.) Back in February, he conspicuously defended her by asking Barack Obama to apologize for David Geffen’s anti-Hillary remarks. And “their chemistry is excellent,” attests Earl Potter, one of the New Mexico governor’s big supporters back home. “Everyone is pushing Richardson,” says New York Democratic fund-raiser John Catsimatidis. “When you check off the list of what they need, a few things get satisfied. What percentage of the country is Hispanic these days?” Plus: “He could offset the cowboy, Fred Thompson.”
Richardson solidifies the Latino vote for an already popular with Latinos Hillary. Richardson helps in the southwest, although Hillary is also popular in the Southwest. Richardson would ensure New Mexico’s 5 electoral votes which eventually were not counted for Kerry. The Latino vote will be crucial in states such as Colorado and Nevada. Big Latino votes in Texas, California, New Jersey, New York, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico would come in for Hillary.
However, Latinos are already angry with Ripublicans over immigration and Hillary is already very popular with Latinos. Richardson has been a big disappointment in the debates and in his appearances around the country. His last debate performance was, to be polite, odd. He is a very intelligent man but seems incapable, thus far, of communicating intelligently. Our advice: Get yourself together big guy. Stop adlibbing, get a speechwriter that can write clearly and stick to the written speech. Stop answering questions until you develop that skill. Stop trying so hard to show you are a nice guy and an intelligent one. Get your act together or we will lose out on your considerable talents and it will be back to the cabinet for you. You’re raising some money [not great at a national level though] and in double digits in some state polls. Get it together or VP is not going to happen.
Evan Bayh proved he was a good fundraiser before he dropped out of the 2008 race. Bayh made some dumb personnel decisions for his campaign but quickly corrected them, which we found impressive. Bayh as both a senator and governor of Indiana might be able to bring in Indiana’s 11 electoral votes, which usually go to the Ripubicans, for Hillary. He might be popular with independents. Indiana also borders Ohio so Bayh might help in Ohio as well. Lots of question marks here. He is considered too moderate by much of the Democratic left but if he can bring in Indiana the risk is worth taking.
Tom Vilsack might bring in Iowa’s 7 electoral votes. That is the alpha and omega here.
Here is the interesting possible choice.
The freshly minted junior senator from Virginia (13 electoral votes) was a Secretary of the Navy in Republican Ronald Reagan’s administration. He has written several well received books. He graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1968 and then served in Vietnam. He is a highly decorated Marine combat veteran. In 2006 Jim Webb became the Democratic Senator from Virginia by beating the unbeatable George “Macaca” Allen in a very tight photo finish race.
Jim Webb comes from a military family and his father is buried at Arlington National Cementary. Jim Webb wrote Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. (Other books include Fields of Fire, A Sense of Honor, A Country Such as This, Something to Die For, The Emperor’s General, and Lost Soldiers.) Webb has roots in Arkansas, England, Nebraska, and California. During the 2006 campaign for Senate Webb garnered national attention when he campaigned with his Marine son’s combat boots on. At the time his son was serving in Iraq. Webb is fluent in Vietnamese. Webb earned the Navy Cross and the Silver Star as well as two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.
Webb earned a law degree from Georgetown Law School in 1975. While attending Georgetown he wrote the book Micronesia and U.S. Pacific Strategy. In a 2003 op-ed piece for USA Today Webb wrote that Bush had “committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory” with the 2003 Iraq war.
Webb serves on the Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs committees in the Senate.
Here is what’s interesting. On November 15, 2006 Webb authored an astounding Op-Ed article in the Wall Street Journal entitled Class Struggle. The article is about the economic inequality currently afflicting the United States. Webb also attacked high executive compensation, tax cuts geared to the wealthy, high health care costs, globalization, and free trade.
Ripublican David Ignatius recently wrote about Webb:
That kind of populist anger is part of the Democrats’ past, and Webb argues that it’s the party’s future as well. But he worries that “the people at the top of the party don’t comprehend the power of that message” and that as a result the Democrats may miss their best chance in a generation to reconnect with the American middle class.
“The Democrats need to embrace the fact that the greatest issue in America today is economic fairness,” he says. He argues that if the Democrats construct a “fairness agenda” that tilts toward workers and away from corporations and the rich, “they will win big.” John Edwards hasn’t had much luck so far with the issue, which he has made the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. But some influential Democrats, including former Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, share the focus on fairness.
On the issue of fairness (if not political correctness) some influential Democrats are starting to come Webb’s way. In a recent paper for Rubin’s own Hamilton Project, Summers and fellow economists Jason Furman and Jason Bordoff made a powerful case for restoring the progressivity of the tax system. They found that in 2004 the top one-tenth of 1 percent in America made as much before-tax income as the bottom 28 percent combined. Actual federal tax rates on that top one-tenth have fallen sharply, from 60 percent in 1960 to 34 percent in 2004.
Recently TPM wrote that Jim Webb is about to “Ratchet Up Role Against Iraq War”.
Webb is someone to watch for VP hunters. His agenda is reminiscent of Hillary’s progressive agenda.
Hillary has a long menu of VP choices to choose from. Clinton/Obama, Clinton/Vilsack, Clinton/Bayh, Clinton/Richardson, Clinton/Webb.
Don’t be surprised if come November 2008, the CW –the Conventional Wisdom — is C/W — Clinton/Webb.