Posted by: andrew1906 | June 20, 2008

Vice Presidential Candidates – Don’t Believe the Hype

Never underestimate the interest the mainstream media has on identifying, highlighting, and overhyping conflict. No one watches Days of our Lives unless someone is sleeping with someone else’s husband. And no one watches cable news until some kind of conflict is brewing.

First we had the primaries – every media outlet was saying “if Barack is the nominee” up until last week. We, of course, knew he was going to be the nominee after Ohio/Texas/Vermont/Rhode Island – but still, there was a vested interested in holding out hope.

Then, of course the seating of Michigan and Florida. Of course, we knew they weren’t about to give all those delegates to Senator Clinton. But still, pundits and surrogates piled onto Hardball decrying the “disenfranchisement” of millions of voters.

Then, the superdelegate “argument.” The idea that there was actually a plausibe argument to be made to the superdelegates that was going to cause them to reverse the pledged delegate lead and throw the election to Senator Clinton (particularly ridiculous, since most of them didn’t want to support her anyway, or else they’d have done it when she was inevitable.) Still, the newsrooms filled with those opining on Hillary’s “path to the nomination.”

Then we had the backwards logic about Obama not faring well among women, Jews, Catholics, and Hispanics – all because he lost them to Clinton (more on this ridiculousness tomorrow). Being of sound mind and common sense, we all know that how a person fares in the primaries is not an indicator of how they will fare in the general elections (do you think that if Hillary won – fairly – she would have had a problem with the black vote in November? I think not.)

Now it’s the Veepstakes.

I’m going to spend some time going through each candidate, the pluses and minus, and trying to shape the discussion here. It’s too easy to just look at someone like – say, John Edwards or Bill Richardson – and say what a great choice! Because they look nice next to the senator. Some discipline, here.

Here’s how you’ve got to think about VP selection. Contrary to popular opinion, and the media portrayal, it’s not about who came in second, or who looks good next to the top of the ticket, or anything superficial. It’s strategic. The criteria for a good VP Candidate:

  • 1. Round out the weaknesses – for Obama, this is foreign policy, or McCain, it’s economics
  • 2. Bring in a state – you want to be able to have a VP deliver a swing state – one you might not get otherwise. Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Michigan – these are good states that might go blue if the right VP is picked. Then again, they might go blue anyway! You don’t want to waste your VP candidate on a state you can’t get – for example, picking up the governor of Georgia might not be such a good idea.
  • 3. Increase supporter base – for Obama, this is undoubtedly blue collar white men in the Appalachians. For McCain, it’s – well, everyone else.
  • 4. Be an attack dog – the VP candidate is the attack dog while the top of the ticket remains gracefully above it all. Remember what it was like going through a primary with weak surrogates?? Not fun.

We’re going to go through all the candidates and see how they measure up.



  1. I’d also rank “qualified to be President” as being pretty important, especially given that 8 out of 43 presidents (18.6%) died while in office. I hope it doesn’t happen to *any* president, but it is a reason we have a VP.

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