Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Anyone want to pick a VP?

I realize that in the old days VP's were picked at the conventions. Even in my favorite ever TV show, The West Wing, then Governon Bartlett picked then Senator Hoynes at the convention as shown in John Spencer's Emmy winning performance in the brilliant episode Bartlett for America.

Yet in recent years the VP choice has happened earlier and earlier. The Democratic Convention is only about a week away and the Republican convention is about two weeks away.

What is the delay?

I think the problem is that as in recent years there is not going to be an excitining or particularly newsworthy selection. Evan Bayh, Tim Kaine, Mitt Romney, and Rob Portman are not the kind of names that will excite anyone.

The only way Obama really makes a splash is to take Hillary Clinton, which is an unlikely scenario. Though I would say if Obama took John Edwards now,,, that would certainly create a buzz.

The only way McCain really makes a splash is to take General David Petraeus in my opinion. Taking an African American or woman for McCain would be a good move, but I don't see it being a big mover for him one way or another.

Unless Michael Phelps is under consideration there are very few names outside of Clinton that would create a considerable buzz. I think people will end up liking the choices of both, but there is always a thought that VP is going to make a difference, win a state, or help in a region of the country, but that has not been the case since LBJ joined JFK's ticket in 1960.

So if the VP isn't going to be exciting, why do I think that they should have already made their selections?

The answer is two-fold. 1st, it doubles there coverage ability. Surrogates like Caroline Kennedy or Chuck Norris are great, but to have the future VP and his/her spouse working the country is a benefit.

Opposing partisans may not have liked Lynne Cheney or Tipper Gore, but to be able to send even the spouse of a candidate on the campaign trail is quite a draw for advance staff and field organizers.

The visual of the team that will run the country is also a powerful image. The youthful look of Clinton and Gore together served them well against George HW Bush in 1992 and Bob Dole in 1996.

While I consider Cheney the equivalent of the Emperor in Star Wars, to have an experienced voice and face with the untested Governor Bush gave that ticket more credibility.

The second reason is that one of the bounces a candidate gets from the VP is the telling of their personal story. We learn about their history, all their successes, their spouses, and families.

If the VP choices end up not being a household name like Romney or Clinton, the nation is going to have to learn about the person that would be a heart attack away from the nuclear codes.

Yet once the convention hits, the race becomes a 60-70 day sprint and the time for telling nice stories and narratives goes away.

I have spent no time discussing the VP's because I think it's an overrated and hyped part of Presidential politics when it comes to decision making. But both campaigns have missed an almost two month window to get their running mate on the trail and into the minds of the American people.

The longer they wait, the better the chance you see the tense tickets of running mates that don't like each other like Obama-Clinton or McCain-Romney.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your comments about the attraction that vp candidates and their wives offer comes from experience.

Perhaps Obama wanted to delay the selection announcement to influence the selection process for the McCain organization.