Presidential Matchmaker

I wonder how one goes about choosing someone to be his or her vice presidential candidate. Is it anything like choosing a marriage partner? How long does it take to figure out who is ‘the one?’ Maybe some presidential hopefuls get turned town by potential VPs. Who knows, maybe George Bush (Sr.) tried to get someone else before Dan Quayle but then he got rejected, so he had to settle. It would certainly explain why he had such an inept running mate. Certainly the process of choosing requires much time and thought to come to a sound decision. So in case any of our candidates has been too busy kissing babies and running expensive ads to search for their political counterparts, I have taken it upon myself to be the Presidential Matchmaker.

Of course, the VP doesn’t really do all that much, and I think it would be stupid to vote based on who is the VP. However, who a presidential candidate chooses as running mate can greatly increase appeal with voters. Depending on how things turned out in Pennsylvania (results not available at time of press), Barack Obama may have locked up the Democratic nomination, but considering the messiness of politics, I’ll assume that this race is going to the super delegates.

At least we can count on John McCain being there in the final race. Despite locking up the Republican nomination early in primary season, McCain’s weakness comes from a lack of support from conservatives in his own party. McCain needs someone to appeal to the more moral majority members of the Republican Party. Also, let’s be honest, McCain is older than the hills, (is he turning 200 this year?!) He needs some youth out of his VP, both to appeal to younger voters and to add some vigor and livelihood to his campaign. He has popular appeal and is a celebrated war veteran, but his support of the current war in Iraq makes him appear hawkish, and he admits his own lack of expertise in economic policies. He also lacks diversity, in an election with unprecedented representation of minorities, he is still an affluent (though not as much as most candidates) white male.

A recent rumor has politically linked him to Condoleezza Rice. Condi is young enough to add some youth to the party. Her association with the Bush Administration may appeal to conservatives in the Party, but it will also taint her image with all the disillusioned voters of America. Some charge that she only adds to an already defense-and-national-security-strong ticket, but I disagree. She’s a diplomat; McCain’s a military man; that seems like a balanced ticket to me. Also, she adds obvious diversity. McCain would be set to neutralize the race and gender issue no matter which candidate the Democratic Party selects. But I think McCain would have to really justify this choice to avoid the appearance of picking Rice just because she is female and Black.

Another possible running mate for McCain is Mitt Romney. Romney won few states in the primaries, but he was popular. He is certainly conservative enough to balance moderate McCain and he doesn’t come across as pro-Iraq as McCain. Also, as state governor, he has experience overseeing an economy so he might provide a President with important insight in trying to jump-start the nation’s sickly economy.

The worst decisions McCain could make are to pick Huckabee or Giuliani. Huckabee is an idiot with a destructive tax policy proposal. Giuliani is too ideologically similar to McCain to add anything.

Hillary is a bitch – cold, distant, humorless – any of these words could describe her. Her VP needs to add a softer, more approachable image. Supposedly, Hillary has experience. I’m not convinced that sitting on the sidelines of a presidency is a strong qualification. She won’t poll well in the South, partly because she’s so liberal. She needs someone to moderate her image, possibly a southern Democrat.

This makes John Edwards a possibility. He’s young and popular with younger voting demographics. A native of the Carolina states, he might help Hillary pick up some of the southern states. But those states aren’t worth many votes anyways. The big one is Florida, where she’ll probably win anyway. Edwards does seem to have a friendlier demeanor that will offset Hillary’s perpetual frown, but he doesn’t add any common man appeal to a too-wealthy ticket. Americans don’t want a VP who gets $400 haircuts.

Another younger politician who appears to be a rising star is Virginia’s junior senator Jim Webb. Webb would add personality to the ticket and bring in some southern voters. As a new senator, Webb can still claim the outsider approach, which has been so successful in recent years. Another factor Hillary should consider is that she can come across as being against the military. Webb is a Vietnam veteran and former Secretary of the Navy, so he could balance this. I also think former General Wesley Clark would add a more moderate and pro-military aspect to her campaign.

Hillary needs to stay away from anyone as liberal as herself. Also, she cannot ask the extremely popular, though not currently politically active, Al Gore. I think there is some unwritten rule that you can’t be running mates with your husband’s former running mate. It’s seems like cheating on each other. As for the Clinton-Obama team, I doubt she’ll be in the position to offer him the VP spot, but it wouldn’t work anyway. America is not ready to accept a woman and a black man together. And those two aren’t that fond of each other now.

So Barack Obama can’t look to Hillary for his VP either. Nor can he look to anyone as young and inexperienced as himself. So that knocks out Webb and Edwards.

I think Wesley Clark could work well with him for the same reasons he’d help Hillary. Obama needs to bolster his image in foreign policy and defense. Clark could add experience there. However, I think his best bet is Joe Biden. Biden, who has notoriety for his Iraq plan, ran for the nomination but he dropped out early. Biden is older, experienced and well respected, so he would add an element of confidence to an uncertain presidency. Another option is New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, another former candidate. He got a lot of exposure under the Clinton Administration, and he worked at the UN so he knows foreign relations.

Either way, it will be interesting to see who ends up pairing off with each other. By the time we return next fall, candidates and their VPs will be well established and it will be down to the home stretch. Enjoy summer! Thanks for reading this year!