A popular parlor game this holiday weekend will be guessing the Vice Presidential picks for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. For the sake of today’s article I’ll play along.
On the Republican side I won’t even hazard a guess. I’m certainly partisan, but I don’t see a good option. The rumor mill has Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie as the favorites. From the Democratic standpoint, bring either on! I do buy the theory advanced by many GOP analysts that it really does not really matter. Trump’s core is solid and he isn’t going to listen to anyone anyway.
On the Democratic side there is some political science to consider. First Clinton has to decide what she wants in a running mate. Does she want an advisor? Does she need help with a demographic group? Does she need an attack dog in that slot? Does she need someone who can win a key swing state? Is it necessary to find someone who fits some or all of the above criteria? Does that person exist?
Before we get into that let me dispel a myth: despite the sanctimonious rhetoric to the contrary nobody picks a running mate who is ready to lead the nation on day one. Not that Ted Cruz would have been a good President but does anyone really believe Carly Fiorina was any better? What about Sarah Palin? OK, I made my point.
Clinton doesn’t need an advisor! She arguably has the best resume of any presidential candidate since John Quincy Adams. Also consider the fact that she is married to former two term President Bill Clinton.
As I get into the five most discussed candidates I’ll narrow in on the factor I think will determine the ultimate winner of the Veepstakes. The five top names are Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, Tim Kaine, Mark Warner and Sherrod Brown.
The case for Massachusetts Senator Warren includes that she is an outstanding attack dog, would please the progressive wing of the Party and is a woman. Warren will be a great attack dog whether she is the Veep choice or not. The progressive wing of the Party has no place else to go and is already showing signs of falling in line. If someone is going to vote on the basis of gender Hillary already has that covered on her own. Clinton doesn’t need help winning Massachusetts so Warren is not a swing state factor.
Castro is the current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He is also the former mayor of San Antonio Texas and Hispanic. Despite the fact that he is a rising star in the Democratic Party he really doesn’t bring that much too the table. Donald
Trump has alienated Hispanics to the point that I really don’t think Clinton needs much additional help with that demographic and Texas (where he has never won statewide election) isn’t going Democratic this cycle regardless of who Clinton picks.
That brings me to what I feel the key factor will be: the ability to carry a larger swing state. Kaine, Warner and Brown are all sitting Senators; Kaine and Warner from Virginia (13 electoral votes) and Brown from Ohio with its 18 electoral votes. They all have great resumes. Kaine has served as both Lt. Governor and Governor of Virginia, been Mayor of Richmond and is a former Democratic National Committee Chair. Warner is a former Virginia Governor. Brown has served in both the House of Representatives and the Ohio House, along with being the former Ohio Secretary of State. It is fair to assume that any one of the three can almost insure
Clinton takes their home state.
In my mind it comes down to choosing among them. I would eliminate Kaine for what normally would be a minor reason. It has been revealed that he accepted a significant amount of gifts when he was Lt. Governor and Governor. They were all reported in a timely manner and legal under Virginia law. The problem is that it doesn’t look good, especially when you consider the Bob McDonnell controversy.
That brings us down to Warner and Brown. I don’t know how much the five electoral votes weigh on the brain trust at Clinton Headquarters; I assume not much. While both states are swing states and any presidential campaign will trade a win for a Senate seat, Warner has a slight advantage. Virginia’s Governor is Democrat and longtime Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe. He would be certain to name a Democrat as Warner’s replacement and almost undoubtedly one handpicked by the Clintons. Ohio’s Governor is the popular Republican John Kasich. Kasich would certainly name a Republican and possibly himself. Immediately Warner assures no Senate seat loss and in the long run the inside track to getting the replacement elected in the mid-term year of 2018.
Well there is some food for thought and enjoy the holiday weekend.
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