Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana is also
the Chair of the DLC and served two terms as Governor.
Everything You Always Wanted to
Know About the Veepstakes But Were Afraid to Ask
[April 12, 2004 evote.com]
Sen. John Kerry has a
major decision to ponder prior to Boston’s July Democratic convention:
who will be his running mate. The choice of the vice presidential
candidate just may be the most over-analyzed and under-analyzed
selection in American politics. Replete with symbolism, the choice is
usually some combination of the political and tactical; with a full
debate always engaged.
Often those who do the
pontificating are journalists or political science professors who know
little of what the nominee is seeking in a candidate, or the intricacies
of who will make the best choice electorally. They instead write about
the subject to tacitly project an air of inside knowledge of
presidential politics and are somehow ken to esoteric information. It
makes the writer subconsciously appear smarter and more knowledgeable by
saying who the VP candidate likely will be, or who is on the short list,
even though the candidate usually keeps his thinking under wraps.
nominees do talk publicly of their VP choice, sometimes it is just a
trial balloon or only an effort to attract and excite a constituency.
Often throughout the years we have read some journalist or heard some
blabbering cable TV charlatan say something to the effect of; “hey
folks, what I have heard on the street is that Mr. So and So will very
likely be chosen as the vice presidential candidate,” only to find out
later there was little chance the two would get together.
One must cast a wary eye
on discussions of vice presidential choices, especially when the source
is a rumor. (Actually, any story based on rumors should be deemed
suspect.) Because presidential nominees rarely talk about it, or speak
truthfully with regard to their choice, then one must literally get
inside their head to figure out who may be chosen, and Bill Gates has
not invented that technology yet. (Although the word on the street is
that he is working on it, EVOTE.COM has learned.)
This year is typical in
that Jim Johnson, the Minnesota native who Kerry requested to run his
vice presidential candidate search efforts, is taciturn.
Spurred partly by a lack
of campaign subjects to write about now that Kerry is assured of the
nomination, 2004 has generated a typical bumper crop of stories on who
the VP nominee could be. A scan of news outlets shows there are upwards
of two dozen published choices, even after excluding non-mainstream
There are probably many
John Edwards, the Mr. Nice Guy of
Ever since our second president John Adams in 1796 was forced to team up
with his ideological and electoral opponent Thomas Jefferson as his vice
president, prior to the creation of the 12th amendment, choosing a
running mate has been an important choice.
A recent national poll
done by Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH found that
nearly two-thirds of their respondents said they consider the VP
candidate to be important in determining their voting choice. Sixty-five
percent said the number two name is at least somewhat important. And do
not forget the following VP’s became president before their term
expired, all except one resulting from the death of the president: John
Tyler in 1841; Millard Fillmore in 1850; Andrew Johnson in 1865; Chester
Alan Arthur in 1881; Theodore Roosevelt in 1901; John Calvin Coolidge,
Jr. in 1923; Harry S. Truman in 1945; Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1963 and
Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. in 1974.
That is a lot of VPs
going big time, some of whom were quite influential. And even if the VP
candidate does not become president during the term or is even elected,
his selection is still important because later they often themselves
become significant presidential candidates.
But while vice presidents
are important for electoral reasons, they historically have rarely have
done much during the president’s term, living up to the title “his
superfluous excellency” that Adams had bestowed on the job. Although
vice presidents recently have gained political stature, perhaps to the
point of being the most important presidential advisor under President
Bush, they still have mostly not been chosen for their “qualifications”
for office, but rather the selections tend to mirror a presidential
candidate’s desire to counter a weakness, such as a particular
experience, or to provide ideological, geographical or generational
balance to the ticket.
amplification of certain aspects of the number one person is often the
pursuit. But sometimes conventional wisdom is ignored, such as the
choice of Senator Al Gore of Tennessee, as he was chosen to be the VP
nominee perhaps in an effort win the entire country instead of just one
particular constituency. And sometimes the choice may be done more for
personal or social reasons rather than anything tactical. No one really
knows why some are chosen and others are not and that is the most
Federal officials almost
always figure prominently among the prospective vice presidential
choices and 2004 is no exception. One explanation for this is that
federal officials are sometimes household names because they may sit on
committees or sponsor and support bills with a national influence,
thereby giving the ticket a broader public profile. This juxtaposed to
governors who are often known more regionally than nationally.
Mrs. Vilsack appeared publicly
with Kerry during a campaign swing through Iowa.
Edwards Leads the
List of Those Mentioned for VP
For this year’s beauty pageant, the relatively young Sen. John Edwards
may be the most continually mentioned as the VP nominee. With his
southern roots he may be more sociable than Kerry and he is also
personable. And of course with the south still fighting the War Between
the States (those damn Yankees), he offers geographical diversity. But
is he popular enough to deliver even his own state? He has also been
somewhat vetted so it seems he does not have any hidden scandals, an
important consideration that has crippled past candidacies. I will not
mention what Kerry has said of Edwards VP possibilities because it is
most likely propaganda.
Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has
also been mentioned as a possibility. The governor did not publicly
support Kerry in the primary, but his wife did which was seen as tacit
approval. He has recently boosted his profile in Washington too.
Vilsack’s former spokesman Amanda Crumley recently began working for the
Democratic Governors Association which some believe is part of an effort
to increase his limited national visibility. His selection could help
Kerry because Iowa is borderline electorally as it could go red or blue.
And since Vilsack is a governor, he potentially gives the ticket the
appearance of the kind of direct managerial experience needed for
running large federal agencies which the senator is virtually devoid of.
But 1924 was the last time a Democratic nominee chose to marry an
individual who mostly established his reputation as a governor. That was
when presidential nominee John W. Davis picked Nebraska’s Charles Bryan,
brother of the “Great Commoner” William Jennings Bryan, for the number
Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana
has been mentioned as a VP selection too. As Chairman of the moderate
Democratic Leadership Council, Bayh could balance Kerry’s image as a
hard liberal. It could also help Kerry best Indiana from the Republican
side where some see it now heading. Choosing Bayh could influence voters
in the adjoining states of Ohio and Michigan too.
Tom Brokaw. Please no. For the
love of God, no.
What do Bill
Clinton, Tom Brokaw and Oprah Winfrey Have in Common?
Enough already has been written about the former Arkansan lawyer named
Hillary Clinton and her vice presidential prospects. In a related move
the New York Times, the EVOTE.COM of New York City, printed an article
recently suggesting Hillary’s husband Bill might be selected as the VP
nominee. According to some scholars, the constitution allows it.
If the prospect of big
Bill going another round does not peak your interest, then how about the
Boston Herald, the EVOTE.COM of Boston, recently printing an article
suggesting that Oprah Winfrey (yes, the talk show host) team up with
Kerry for the election. The choice is not as ludicrous as the knee-jerk
reaction suggests. Born in poverty, she rose to become one of today’s
most wealthy, powerful and trusted women. She runs a financial empire
akin to the largest corporations and lobbies heavily for children’s
rights. And man does she have name recognition.
And here is another doozy
for you. The Philadelphia Inquirer, the EVOTE.COM of Philadelphia,
recently printed an article suggesting that Tom Brokaw (yes, the NBC
news guy) may be chosen as the VP nominee. The newspaper stated that
“buzz” (is that another word for rumor) “has surfaced once again about
Brokaw entering politics.” Although Brokaw insists he will not be a
candidate, many believe during the debates he hosts that he appears much
more presidential than many of the debaters.
Even the Dean for America mailing
list as leverage won't get the former Vermont Governor a veep
And the Rest of
the VP Nominees Are
Other manifold folks being mentioned in the press as possible vice
presidential nominees include:
• Vermont Gov. Howard
Dean: Kerry and Dean share similar liberal views and a New England
background. Conventional wisdom says Kerry should open his umbrella a
bit more and choose someone who will attract others to the ticket. But
that is not what Bill Clinton did.
• Retired General
Wesley Clark: has a great military resume, but so does Kerry. Was
raised in Arkansas, but will that help win in Dixie? Also has a history
of being a Republican, so will that help or hurt Kerry?
• Missouri Rep. Dick
Gephardt: could help deliver his home state and attract nationwide
union support. But do the rank-and-file vote the way their leaders want
• New Mexico Gov. Bill
Richardson: is of Spanish ancestry which will probably help in
states with large numbers of emigrants from Latin or Central America,
including Florida, Texas, Arizona and that big giant thing called
California. Former congressman, U.N. ambassador and cabinet secretary.
• Florida Senators Bob
Graham and Bill Nelson: the key ingredients here are Florida,
Florida and Florida. Many of these so-called “political analysts” say
Kerry must win Florida to win this puppy, but Kerry just needs a
plurality of electoral votes regardless of where they come from.
• Arizona Gov. Janet
Napolitano: she is of course a woman and conventional wisdom says
women candidates attract more women voters, but voting patterns show
women do not consider gender important.
• Virginia Governor
Mark R. Warner: attractive to southerners and a Virginia victory
would be sweet, but he proposed a tax increase to help solve Virginia’s
budget deficit. The Massachusetts senator is trying to bury the
perception he is a fiscal liberal.
With Dems actively thwarting
Nader, Locke's chances are lessened.
• Washington state
Gov. Gary Locke: this Asian-American (a group that more often votes
Republican) has a national reputation as a pro-business moderate
Democrat, but fiscal restraints are imposed by the laws of his state. It
could help ensure victory in the Pacific Northwest where Ralph Nader is
• Former New Hampshire
Gov. Jeanne Shaheen: she is his campaign chairman but resides in an
• Louisiana Senators
Mary Landrieu and John Breaux: same old story, win a southern state.
• Former Georgia Sen.
Sam Nunn: former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee was
at one time very influential with national appeal.
• California Sen.
Diane Feinstein: for a candidate that needs to diversify, so say the
scholars, she is also a liberal with a national following, but
California is the big ape of electoral victories.
• Former Nebraska Gov.
and Sen. Bob Kerrey: Congressional Medal of Honor winner and
outspoken member of 9/11 commission. Ran for president in 1992. Kerry
and Kerrey? Not gonna happen.
• Clinton Treasury
Secretary Robert Rubin: may help Kerry with Wall Street and
business-focused voters. Has a national reputation.
• Clinton’s budget
director Franklin Raines: would perhaps send a message of fiscal
responsibility. But who is he? The voters don’t know.
• Arkansas Sen.
Blanche Lincoln: says she does not want it and besides, relatively
few know her outside the land of the razorbacks.
• Pennsylvania Gov.
Edward G. Rendell: could help in this borderline state.
• Kansas Gov. Kathleen
Sebelius: could help throughout the heartland. Not well known
• Clinton Health and
Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala: as Chancellor of the
University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1988-1993, she was the first woman
to head a Big Ten University. In 1992 Business Week named her one of the
top five mangers in higher education.
• Georgia Rep. John
Lewis: black sharecropper’s son and civil rights advocate would
attract minorities to the ticket. Could give ticket appearance of being
too far left.
• Former Georgia
Senator Max Cleland: lost three limbs in Vietnam. Kerry friend who
campaigned with him.
• Three Republicans are
being mentioned too. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Arizona Sen.
John McCain and former Maine Sen. William Cohen who was defense
secretary under Bill Clinton. It would be an odd choice, but why not a
Republican? Talk about providing balance. Some Republicans would sure
like it. And McCain, who went from disliking to liking Kerry throughout
the years, would certainly electrify Kerry’s candidacy. Now that would
And of course the VP
stakes are not limited to the Democratic side. Some say that Dick Cheney
and his Halliburton friends may be too much of a liability for Bush so
he may dump him, perhaps claiming health reasons. That ain’t gonna
You know we're kidding about Burt,
Choose Burt Badass
But we at EVOTE.COM are smart and omniscient and have conducted an
intensive research project as to who Kerry should choose as his running
mate. After several months of study and analysis, we have figured out
exactly who will garner the most votes for the Democratic presidential
nominee. We hope Kerry is paying attention.
Seeing as John Kerry
needs to broaden his appeal and attract those to the voting booth that
now typically instead stay in bars, we propose he choose Burt “The
Rifleman” Badass of Boston, Massachusetts. Burt Badass’ qualifications
include an extensive criminal record, including armed robbery, assault
and battery, forgery, rape, murder, prostitution, driving while
intoxicated and trading stock after hours. Badass will appeal to the
millions of people, both Democratic and Republican, who have been
dragged into America’s courts. They will flock to his candidacy,
especially since our analysis shows that Kerry is a little too honest, a
little too goody-goody, too much of a teacher’s-pet for the electorate.
Badass will also appeal
to working folks because a decade ago he held a steady full-time job
throughout the entire summer. And he is also mean, very unsociable, so
the jerks and those with personality flaws will find Burt Badass to be a
great candidate and true friend. Another plus on his side is that with a
February 14, 2006 incarceration release date, he is free to begin his
vice presidential duties after just one year, 24 days and six hours.
(The screws consider Badass to be a poor prisoner, so there will be no
Two reasons Kerry may not
want to choose him though is that his candidacy may invite negative
criticism; Burt Badass does not have any foreign policy experience. Some
also consider his support of the Moral Majority to be excessive.
And that advice we
provide to Kerry: free.
[John Pike is a
veteran free-lance journalist based in Boston. His articles have
appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers and wire services, including
the Boston Globe, Reason and Insight Magazines. The word on the street
is that he will likely be chosen as Kerry’s vice presidential nominee
and is now eagerly waiting for the big phone call.]