VP Picks 5 Most Likely
From Washington Post
To put together this week's line -- which lists the five most likely vice presidential picks for Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) -- The Fix spoke with a variety of party strategists, read all the clips we could find and used plain old common sense.
Remember that vice presidents are usually picked to fill a perceived weakness of the presidential nominee. For McCain, that means the most likely candidates to be considered are youthful (50 and under) and non-Washington types (governors). For Obama, that's someone who can answer questions about his experience (particularly on foreign policy) and help him reach working-class white voters he has struggled win over in the primaries. For Clinton, it's someone with a profile as a political outsider and maybe someone with chief executive experience.
Our picks are below. Agree or disagree? The comments section awaits your thoughts.
To the Line!
* Charlie Crist: The Florida governor has a strong case to make that his endorsement of McCain in the waning days of the Sunshine State primary cinched the nomination for the Arizona Senator. Crist's popularity among Florida voters could well strengthen McCain's hand in a swing state in the fall. (It also doesn't hurt that McCain praised Crist as a "great governor" during a campaign swing through the state earlier this month.) The biggest problem for Crist? He's not beloved among conservatives many of whom feel McCain has to pick one of them to get their votes.
* Tim Pawlenty: Pawlenty still remains the most likely choice for McCain. The two have known each other since the 1980s, Pawlenty is significantly younger than McCain (he's 47), and he makes Minnesota instantly competitive. Pawlenty is also playing the politics of the veepstakes perfectly -- denying any interest in the job while not making any Sherman-esque pronouncements.
* Mitt Romney: Politics is a funny business. Two months ago, the idea that McCain would even consider the former Massachusetts governor was ludicrous. It became clear during the nomination fight that McCain disliked Romney and the two men -- as well as their staffs -- clashed day in and day out for months. But, since Romney dropped from the race, he has made no secret of his interest in remaining in the national spotlight. We still think it is a long shot for McCain to pick his former foe, but Romney has some powerful voices within the GOP making the case for him.
* Mark Sanford: The South Carolina governor told The Fix in a recent interview that he spends no time thinking about the vice presidency but acknowledges that any politician who says he or she wouldn't "take the call" is lying. Sanford appears to be ramping up his veep case as evidenced by a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled "The Conservative Case for McCain". (Not terribly tough to read in between the lines there.) Sanford is beloved among fiscal conservatives who are wary about McCain's record on taxes. But, after endorsing McCain in 2000, Sanford stayed neutral in this primary race. Will McCain hold a grudge?
* John Thune: The argument for the South Dakota Senator is very similar to the case for Pawlenty. Thune is young (47), was an early endorser of McCain's presidential bid and comes from the plains states -- a big battleground this fall. Thune enjoys a higher national profile than Pawlenty as a result of his defeat of former Sen. Tom Daschle (D) in 2004 but doesn't have the executive experience that Tpaw boasts.
Tim Kaine: Kaine has three major things going for him -- he'll be looking for a job in January 2009, he was the among the first major elected officials to endorse Obama and he is popular in a state expected to be a central battleground in November. The problem for Kaine is that he does little to strength Obama's biggest weakness: foreign policy bona fides.
Bill Richardson: Richardson's decision to weigh in for Obama even as the controversy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright bubbled threw the Illinois Senator a lifeline when he badly needed one. The New Mexico governor has an extremely deep resume that would nicely complement Obama's strengths. A Richardson pick could also serve as a symbolic olive branch to the Hispanic community, which has gone heavily against Obama in the primaries, and add to the historic nature of the ticket.
Tim Roemer: Roemer is a new member of the Fix's veepstakes Line. A former congressman from the South Bend-based District in Indiana, Roemer could up his chances if he can help deliver the Hoosier State to Obama on May 6. As importantly, Roemer was a member of the high-profile 9/11 Commission and is currently the president of the Center for National Policy -- a think tank that looks closely at national security issues.
Kathleen Sebelius: If Obama wants to make a truly historic ticket, picking Sebelius might be the best way to do it. Sebelius has won two terms as governor of Kansas -- not exactly a Democratic stronghold -- and did well in her stint on the national stage as chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Sebelius has the same problem as Kaine, however; it's hard to see how she helps Obama convince voters he has the experience to handle the complicated world situation he would inherit as president.
Jim Webb: The Virginia Senator, a decorated former Marine, has the heft on national security and foreign policy that has to make some Obama strategists salivate. Webb's background as former Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan Administration could also make him an appealing pick for Obama -- a re-affirmation of the "post-partisan" messaging of his campaign. (Make sure to read Anita Kumar's profile of Webb's early days in the Senate.) The downside of Webb? He is the least conventional of politicians -- often looking uncomfortable when speaking before crowds and prone to make the occasional impolitic remark.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Evan Bayh: The protracted primary fight is good news for Bayh's vice presidential chances as he gets an (unexpected) opportunity to show his mettle on behalf of Clinton in Indiana's May 6 primary. Bayh has a terrific case on paper: two terms as governor and two terms in the Senate from a red state in the Midwest. He's also been one of the most effective and active advocates for Clinton throughout the campaign. Bayh's biggest problem is that vice presidential picks are not always made on paper. His detractors see him a stiff and shallow -- a choice that wouldn't create much excitement.
John Edwards: The former North Carolina Senator continues to stay out of the fray, perhaps waiting to maximize his political capital before endorsing either Obama or Clinton. If he goes with the New York Senator, he would be an obvious veep choice for her, having run nationally three times (twice for president, once for vice president) and easily wearing the populist mantle that Democrats seem to be yearning for. The issue with an Edwards pick is whether it would be perceived as more of the same in an election year where voters want change?
Barack Obama: Given the current dynamic in the Democratic race, it's impossible to imagine any scenario where Clinton wins the nomination and doesn't at least offer the vice presidential slot to Obama. Whether he would take it is an entirely different discussion.
Bill Nelson: Every four years, the senator from Florida seems to be among those mentioned -- but not picked -- for the national ticket. He is a more serious choice in this election, having been an ardent advocate not only for Clinton but also her interests in the Sunshine State. It was Nelson who, unsuccessfully, pushed hardes for the idea of a Florida re-vote. He's also from a state that is almost certainly going to be a batteground in the fall and remains quite popular among Florida's voters.
Ted Strickland: Aside from Obama, Strickland has to be considered the early favorite for the number two slot if Clinton winds up as the nominee. The governor of Ohio delivered his state in a big way on March 4. In the days leading up to that vote, Strickland was everywhere -- a sign of how much Clinton was depending on Strickland's popularity as a validator for her to Ohio voters. Strickland, who held a southern Ohio congressional district before being elected governor in 2006, would, like Edwards, reinforce Clinton's economic message. Unlike Edwards, however, Strickland has experience as a chief executive under his belt.