Thursday, May 22, 2008

Obama Heightens V.P. Search :
Who Are The Frontrunners?
Will Thomas
Huffington Post

With the Democratic nomination now in its endgame, it's time to speculate on that question that makes politicos weak at the knees: who will be tapped to be vice president? Unlike the top job, there is no election here, and it's the first big choice that we get to see the candidate make about his cabinet.
So, who will Obama pick? Will he favor someone with experience like Joe Biden? A Western governor like Janet Napolitano? Or will he satisfy the media's desire for a dream team and try for the Obama/Clinton ticket?
We've identified 10 possible VP choices for Obama, as well as the general criteria that might guide his decision. Think we're missing someone? Let us know in the comments section. And be sure to register your favorite on HuffPost's Vice President poll.
Location, location, location: A VP who is popular at home can help land a win in a tossup state. It's one reason why someone like Sherrod Brown (OH) could be a good pick. Of course, location isn't everything; Cheney, after all, is from Wyoming.
Strong anti-war record: It's not a requirement that someone be against the war to run on an Obama ticket, but they will have to have a good track record explaining why they changed their mind. Otherwise, expect all those comments about Hillary Clinton to come up, as well as one word: "opportunist."
Post-partisan record: If you're running to overcome the divided state of politics, you probably won't inspire confidence by picking Sen. Russ Feingold as your running mate. Sen. Jim Webb (a former Republican) or Gov. Schweitzer (picked a Republican as his Lieutenant General) are good examples.
Complementing record: On the one hand, a VP can balance a candidate's weaknesses. On the other hand, they can magnify those shortcomings. Richardson and Biden, for example, have long resumes that let them go toe-to-toe with McCain, but it could remind voters of Obama's inexperience.
Jim WebbWebb is the closest thing to a frontrunner for Obama's VP these days. A former Republican, he served as Secretary of the Navy for Ronald Reagan. Webb defeated George "Macaca" Allen to become a junior senator in Virginia.
Pro: Webb is a good foil for Obama's post-partisan message, and he's got the military credentials to match up with John McCain. He's good at playing the attack dog, which will let Obama take the high road. And he's from trending-blue Virginia, which would be a great pickup in November for Democrats. He's also pro-guns.
Con: Webb can be a little out-of-control as attack dogs go.
Hillary ClintonThis ticket is either a dream or a nightmare. Some see it as the only way to reunite the Democrats in time for November. Other see it as the fastest way to destroy the Obama brand.
Pro: Strong appeal with working class voters and women.
Con: See Iraq War vote, 3AM phone call, Bill Clinton in South Carolina, and the month of March.
Bill RichardsonYou know him, you love him; he's the New Mexico governor with a heart of gold, a kickin' mustache, and -- thanks to James Carville -- a new nickname.
Pro: You've heard them all before. A foreign policy resume a mile long, executive experience, and a lock with Hispanic voters. And he picked Obama, despite his Clinton ties.
Con: Did you watch any of the debates?
Joe BidenHe is Mr. Foreign Policy. He also claims the best line of the primary season thus far. Too bad no one told Iowans he was running for President.
Pro: He trumps any foreign policy claims that McCain brings to the table. He can hit McCain hard.
Con: He tends to hit everyone hard. And he's a Washington figure, which could hurt a campaign running against Washington.
Brian SchwietzerNever heard of him? You should. Schweitzer has been Montana's governor since 2005, and is currently one of the most popular governors in the country.
Pro: In addition to his executive experience, Schweitzer has spent a good amount of time around the world (including the Middle East) in his former life as an irrigation developer. His popularity and his pro-gun stance could help Obama in the Mountain West area. He also refused PAC and special interest money during his 2004 campaign. He's also criticized the economic consequences of the Iraq War, an approach that Obama has recently adopted.
Con: Despite his travels, he has no official foreign policy experience. He also doesn't bring in any delegates from his own state (though that could be offset if he helps in places like North Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado).
Janet NapolitanoAnother popular Western governor, Napolitano has settled into a second term in McCain's very red home state. She also backed Obama early in the race.
Pros: She has proven her executive capacity in Republican territory, as well as the Southwest, which will help sway Obamicans. A female candidate could also help reunite the Democrats.
Con: Her stance on immigration could prove costly among Hispanic voters.
Sherrod BrownBrown is a favorite among progressives for his economic populism and outspoken criticism of the war.
Pro: Could help deliver an important swing state.
Con: Doesn't really satisfy the idea of a unity ticket.
Chuck HagelA Republican senator who has fought with Bush tooth and nail over the Iraq war, Hagel is one of three Republicans who voted with the Democrats over a withdrawal plan. He also has served on the Banking, Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees. Hagel has also said he's considering endorsing Sen. Obama.
Pro: Broad Senate experience. A living embodiment of Obama's commitment to work with like-minded Republicans. Also is a veteran with experience in Reagan's administration
Con: He is still a Republican (especially on abortion and health care), which would not sit well with a lot of Democrats.
Wesley ClarkRhodes Scholar turned four-star general and once-presidential candidate. A star resource for Democrats on military affairs.
Pro: John McCain would have to salute him. And he has Southern appeal.
Con: Backed Clinton early and has been a very active surrogate. Not always the best politician on a national stage.
Kathleen SebeliusTalk about reaching across the aisle. This Kansas governor convinced a Republican to leave his party, become a Democrat, and run as her lieutenant governor. Kansas is rife with stories of Republicans undergoing conversions, and Sebelius gets a good amount of credit for this.
Pro: Another Red-state governor with an excellent post-partisan record. Having a female VP could be a strong ticket.
Con: Sebelius didn't wow anyone with her response to the State of the Union, which raises questions about how she would do on the national stage. And her location in Kansas doesn't add much that Obama doesn't already get from Illinois.
Tom DaschleThe former South Dakota senator, Daschle has been a strong supporter of Obama's campaign; he's a national co-chair and is rumored to play a big part in the campaign strategy.
Pro: Can bring in votes from his home state.
Con: Weak campaigner: he lost his Senate seat while he was the sitting Majority Leader.
Mike BloombergSure, most voters have never heard of him. And sure, he's never been a national player. But the current mayor of New York has been a darling of the media, as they spent months seeing if he would get into the Presidential race. Coupled with some private conversations with Obama that caused a tizzy in the fall, a Bloomberg candidacy could cause some media attention that would rival that of even John McCain.
Pros: Excellent economic record. Interested in policy minutiae. Post-partisan (former Republican switched to Independent). Media darling.
Cons: Unheard of outside his home state. It's tough not to seem like an elitist when the world 'billionaire' applies to you.
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