Various political pundits predict the 2012 United States presidential campaign will be the most costly in the nation’s history and probably the meanest and dirtiest.
Republicans will say it will be the longest campaign by a single candidate because they claim President Obama started his nonstop re-election effort on Nov. 5, the day after he won the 2008 election.
The race for the White House is expected to be tight, and every means will be used to try to motivate those in every possible demographic group to vote on Nov. 6, only six months away.
The candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, are well known, but, at this time, there is no guarantee Joe Biden will be Obama’s running mate. The field seems wide open for the GOP vice presidential candidate.
This raises the question of just how important the veep candidate is in securing votes for either the GOP or Democratic tickets. Granted, the vice president becomes terribly important if a president is unable to continue in office, but how many voters take this into consideration when trying to decide which candidate to support.
The next question is: What type of person wants to seek the vice presidency?
Earlier this week, A.B. Culvahouse wrote an interesting and timely story for the Wall Street Journal, in which he told about his experiences as a member of a small group of individuals that had the task of vetting potential Republican vice presidential candidates. He helped vet potential nominees in four elections starting in 1976 and served as a lawyer doing the vetting to find the running mate for Sen. John McCain in 2008.
Just to get one question answered right off, he writes that he told McCain and senior GOP strategists that the selection of then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was a “high risk, high reward” decision. And today, he stands by that advice and assessment.
Culvahouse details the exhaustive investigation that goes into the vetting process. He writes he would “never dream” of asking his best friends the questions asked of those being considered as vice presidential nominees. He said those who survive the “winnowing from a long list to short were rewarded with the most intimate examination known to politics.”
In the case of Palin, the only detail missed in her vetting was her husband’s membership in the Alaska Independence Party.
Culvahouse said that, if good manners were followed in the vetting process, many questions that should have been asked but were not surely would be brought up by someone else on the other political side who had the job of trying to find out everything bad about possible nominees.
Culvahouse said it is likely a short list of five to 15 leading Americans soon will be notified Romney believes they are qualified to be serious contenders to become his running mate. If they agree to be considered, the examinations will begin.
He notes the examination of each of those who agrees to the exercise is far more intrusive in every respect than the examination of those seeking the presidency.
Again, what kind of person seeks the vice presidency? Do candidates do it with the idea it eventually might lead to the top job in the White House? Is it an ego trip? Do they believe that, if they are in the vice president’s office, they could make a major difference or contribution to this country? Or do they think they can help the president be a better president?
Culvahouse writes that, in all interviews, he asks why the individual would want to be vice president. He notes, “after the scripted answer was finished, every potential nominee began to speak from the heart about honor, service and obligation, on occasion with moist eyes. Their successors on the short list this election cycle deserve our respect in the same measure as they will receive our scrutiny.”
Who will be on Romney’s “short list” of five to 15 possible running mates? Maybe they already have been notified. We’ll probably never know, but it would be interesting to learn whether any choose to turn down the offer.
This writer knows one extremely well-known individual who agreed to such an invitation, and he and his family endured an exhaustive investigation. It reached the point that he apparently had the job. He and his wife were told where they would sit at the convention, what would be the proper attire and what would be expected, only to have the presidential candidate, or his senior advisers, decide to make a last-minute switch to another individual.
In each presidential election, the investigation gets deeper. According to Culvahouse, the starting questionnaire for Ford’s campaign had 16 questions, which later were expanded. For the 2008 election, the similar starting questionnaire had almost 80 questions or topics, with multiple subparts.
Once more, who are the individuals currently under investigation as potential running mates for Romney and is the same exercise under way for a running mate for Obama? What are the odds Biden will be replaced?