Archive for Friday, June 6, 2008

Clinton would help Obama ticket

June 6, 2008


With his nomination in hand but his party divided, Barack Obama needs a running mate who can help unify the Democrats - and help them win in November.

It would make sense for him to pick someone who backed Hillary Clinton, whose supporters will comprise nearly half the convention delegates in Denver. The harder part is who. Clinton backers who figure in the speculation include Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, former Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, Govs. Ted Strickland of Ohio and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Gen. Wesley Clark.

But the best way for Obama to ensure unity - and victory - is to pick Clinton, who signaled this week that she'd certainly consider the vice presidential slot.

Despite causing awkward moments - her comment about Obama's weakness with "white Americans," her clumsy reference to Robert F. Kennedy's assassination, her grudging acceptance of defeat - Clinton is the one potential running mate who would clearly boost his chances.

She has been a terrific campaigner and is especially strong with members of core Democratic groups that have been cool to the Illinois senator: white women, Hispanics and blue-collar workers. Obama and Clinton also would be ideologically compatible, with similar positions on major issues.

Whether they're personally compatible is more problematic. But two words answer those who say campaign animosity precludes such a ticket: Lyndon Johnson.

Indeed, the 1960 race produced even greater personal bitterness between Johnson and John F. Kennedy than this year's Obama-Clinton race. Johnson supporters accused Kennedy - accurately, it turned out - of covering up the state of his health. Johnson bashed Kennedy's father.

But when the crunch came, Kennedy picked Johnson as the strongest running mate. Johnson accepted, in part, because he thought he would have more clout as vice president than as Senate majority leader.

Besides, he knew that, other than winning the presidency, the best way to reach the White House was to serve as vice president. Today, 14 of the 43 presidents had been vice president, seven in the 20th century alone.

That may be why Clinton is hinting her interest, given that a Democratic victory is more likely than not. At 60, her only other hope of reaching the White House would be if Obama lost in November.

For Obama, the key argument is that she adds more than any other possible running mate, many of whom would be untested under fire. A recent Fox News poll showed that an Obama-Clinton ticket would beat a John McCain-Mitt Romney ticket, but that Obama, alone, would lose to McCain. A Michigan survey showed the same result in that state.

Yet there are barriers to an Obama-Clinton ticket. Here are some questions:

¢ Would picking a veteran Washington figure damage Obama's "change" message? Or would choosing a woman to run with a black enhance the extent that his candidacy does represent change?

¢ Would it hurt to have no white male on the ticket? Perhaps. But Democrats won't win a majority of white male voters anyway. Spurring turnout among minorities and women could more than offset any lost votes from white men.

¢ What about Bill Clinton? Probably the biggest barrier, given that the former president continues to appear somewhat out of control, most recently in his heated response to a Vanity Fair article about his personal and financial baggage.

Still, he remains popular, especially among Hispanics, in Southern states like Arkansas and in small towns. Remember that old Clinton slogan about getting two for the price of one? An Obama-Clinton ticket might give the Democrats three for the price of two.

And what about Clinton's role if the ticket won? A new administration might do well to enlist him as a special Middle East negotiator.

In the end, Obama may play it safe. He may not ask; she may not accept. But he could do worse than to create a marriage of political convenience between the party's two leading figures.

Carl P. Leubsdorf is Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News


fu7il3 9 years, 8 months ago

A president along can't bring about change anyway. Not without change in Congress.

cato_the_elder 9 years, 8 months ago

If Senator Obama were to choose her as his running mate after the way the Clintons have trashed him within his own party for almost a year, it would be proof positive that all he cares about is obtaining power. He and his wife, and most of their key supporters, detest the Clintons. The hypocrisy of such a choice would be an embarrassment to the country and our political system, regardless of whether such things may have happened in the past. After all, Senator Obama, I thought that the theme of your campaign was "Change."

BigDog 9 years, 8 months ago

Is that the same Jim Webb who wrote the article against women being admitted to the Naval Academy or women had no business fighting in combat? hmmmm an old male chauvanist wouldn't make the best running mate for Obama

notajayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

Clinton would bring nothing to the Obama ticket. People don't vote for a presidential candidate based on who they picked for a running mate unless it's someone they want to be president in 8 years, and nobody seriously thinks she has a shot in 2016. The VP job is not something that has any real power or duties.And Hillary knows she has more power staying in the Senate. Her statements that she'd be willing to unite the party by being Obama's running mate are carefully calculated and planned to put him in a no-win situation, because she might still have a shot to win in 2012, but only if McCain wins this year.

Oracle_of_Rhode 9 years, 8 months ago

Barack is too smart to pick Hillary, and take on her and Bill's baggage. This election is about CHANGE -- not about preserving the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton two-headed American royal family.

chet_larock 9 years, 8 months ago

all i can say is that ihovo must be extremely intelligent.

notajayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

monkeyspunk (Anonymous) says: "this election, sadly, is coming down to whom the candidates choose for their Veep."Would you buy tickets to a Broadway play based on who the star's understudy is? 'Cause that's about what basing a choice on the VP candidate amounts to."Thanks Electoral College!"As a state, Kansas has more of a say because of the electoral college than it's share of the national population would have.

yeah_right 9 years, 8 months ago

What is the quickest way for Hillary to get in office as president? Become Obama's VP and boom, boom Obama is taken out and she has her oval office. I'm usually not one for conspiracy theories but my mom, of all people, mentioned this to me. I'm leaning towards Obama but if he picks Hillary I will have a VERY difficult time voting that way.

monkeyspunk 9 years, 8 months ago

this election, sadly, is coming down to whom the candidates choose for their Veep. If Obama chooses Clinton, I am sorry, I can't vote for that. Webb from VA would be an exciting candidate, one that I think would bring much needed foreign policy and national security clout to Obama. But, once again, I live in Kansas, so my vote means squat.Gives sarcastic double 'thumbs up'Thanks Electoral College!

janeyb 9 years, 8 months ago

Obama's biggest Democrat support is the Kennedys. That isn't Old Washington? He asked Caroline Kennedy to help him select a VP. So change is asking the kids of Old Washington politicians to support him? Maybe Chelsie should have ran instead of Hillary. The only change Obama wants is to become Old Washington himself.If the polls say his best chance to beat McCain is with Clinton. Clinton it will be.

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