Which running mate should McCain fear the most?

June 7, 2008

My view on the top ten running mates for Obama

Now that Obama is going to be the Democratic nominee, I am going to give my views on who should be his running mate – or more accurately who I, as someone who has a lot of money staked against the Senator, fear the most. Although all of them are plausible, the emphasis is on electability, not likelihood of being chosen.

High (possibly devastating) Threat

1. Michael Bloomberg – Bloomberg would be a perfect pick for Obama. It’s not just that he’s Jewish, or a prominent figure in the North-East, its that his liberal economic and social views will attract independents and force McCain to work harder to retain the support of economic conservatives. If Bloomberg put a fraction of his personal fortune into the campaign he could probably throw enough money to put some of the states that McCain is targeting out of play. Fortunately, for the GOP Bloomberg’s decision to send his campaign manager to help out at the GOP convention suggests that he may be looking toward Albany rather than Pennsylvania Avenue.

2. Collin Powell – If there is one Obama leaning Republican who has the potential to boost Obama it is Collin Powell. His military experience would really boost the Obama ticket and undo most of the damaged caused by Wright. His involvement in the Iraq War means that it would be very difficult for McCain to attack Obama as weak on foreign policy. He seemed to be leaning towards Obama in the primaries but will he really stick a knife into the back of his longstanding friend John McCain – especially to benefit someone who sat mute in the pews while Jeremiah Wright ripped into, ‘those who live below the level of Clarence Collin and Condamnesia’.

Moderate to High Threat

3. Mark Warner – Southern, moderate and with executive and business experience, Warner’s selection would help Obama move to the centre and assuage fears that he would move America in a direction that was too radical for the population at large. It should also be remembered that before Obama was seen as a serious candidate, Warner was the ‘candidate of change’. The only downside is that he has a serious shot at the nomination in 2012 (since a Warner/Ford ticket would be unbeatable) and may prefer to sit out this contest in favour of four years in the Senate.

4. Hillary Clinton – Clinton is obviously divisive and is scheming. However, putting her on the ticket would bring to mind a certain phrase of LBJ’s involving tents and bathrooms. She would obviously bring Hillary Democrats on board and her emphasis on economic issues would be the correct campaign strategy. It would also signal that Barack Obama might even be serious about his recent rhetoric about Israel. The only problem is that both candidates have backed themselves into a situation where an Obama/Clinton ticket would involve a serious loss of face. Personally, I don’t think Hillary Clinton wants the job since she is prepared to take her chances with 2012. There is also the small issue of the comments that she made about Obama’s readiness for the job of Commander-in-Chief.

5. Chuck Hagel – Hagel clearly has slipped the moorings of the Republican party. He also opposed the War in Iraq and would make the case that Obama is serious about working across the aisle. However, like with Collin Powell, the question is whether he will leave the Republican party right at the moment a moderate triumphs.

Moderate Threat

6. Bill Richardson – Richardson’s selection would probably nail down New Mexico for Obama and possibly even Nevada and Colorado, forcing McCain on the offensive. It would also be harder to run a negative campaign against an Obama/Richardson ticket. However, he ran a dismal campaign this time around and he withdrew his name from consideration in 2004 in mysterious circumstances, indicating that he may have some skeletons in his closet.

7. James Webb – Webb is aggressive, populist, has strong military credentials and definitely has an appeal to Appalachian voters. However, he creates as many problems as he solves. Although the charge of misogyny is pretty much unfair, as even Condi Rice is no fan of women on the front lines of the military, this will definitely be used by discordant Hillary supporters as an excuse to support McCain. There is also the question of whether Webb’s paleoconservative outlook is really what the campaign wants, given that Obama has decided to walk away from his more outrageous foreign policy blunders. It should be noted that Webb also relied on refugees from the DC area and in Northern Virginia generally to deliver victory in 2006.

8. Ken Salazar – Salazar would have the benefits of Bill Richardson, while nailing down Colorado rather than New Mexico. The only problem is that, like Obama, he only spent four years in the Senate (although unlike Obama he had a successful career as the attorney general’ of Colorado).

Weak Threat

9. General Wesley Clark – Even though Obama has evidently started to realise that he needs to moderate his foreign policy positions the would be well advised to pick someone who has impeccable foreign policy credentials. However, Clark ran an uninspiring campaign in 2004 and his loyalties might lie with a certain Senator from New York.

10. Ted Strickland – The Governor of Ohio would be a strong choice because he could deliver a very important state and really put a stick in the spokes of Republican strategy. However, his national profile isn’t really that large and he does nothing to swing Pennsylvania or other key states.



  1. Next US President: McCain or Obama?

    Who would you like to be the next US president?

    POLL: http://polls.php0h.com/nextuspresident.php

  2. Q&A How can McCain SIMULTANEOUSLY attract both Hillary AND Bob Barr voters? Answer: PALIN Veep!

  3. Ted,

    I could not agree more Sarah Palin as McCain’s VP would be the best choice for his campaign and the country.

  4. First it was Condolezza, then it was Jindal.  Now it’s Sarah Palin.  Tomorrow… who knows.The GOP is running out of saviors for their humiliated party.  Once gas hits $6 a gallon, I don’t think a second-coming of Ronald Reagan could fend-off the earthquake the Obama camp has in store for November.

  5. If gas hit $6 a gallon, the Dems will be blamed for their failure to drill and lower taxes. The elite wing of the Democrat party may not care about paying high gas taxes, but working Democrats are fed up. They already do not trust Mr. Obama.

  6. “Some people call you the elites, I call you my base – George W. Bush

  7. I think Palin wouldn’t be a great choice since she doesn’t bring much to the table. Condi or Lieberman would still be my choice for McCain and if I were Obama I’d be looking for Bloomberg, Warner or Powell.

  8. Giacomo,

    Your party is in control of congress so the gas issue is not just a Republican problem. People are feed up with both parties in Washington D.C. As you know I am no George Bush Republican but to blame this whole gas mess on him and Congressional Republicans is naive and wrong. It has been 20 years of not having any coherent energy policy that got us where we are today.


    I think we have pasted the time when VP canidates can deliver a certain state or states. So I think that Presidential canidates should look for people who reinforce their image. This is what Bill Clinton did when he picked Gore. In McCain’s case he would want someone who could reinforce his straight-talk reformer image. Sarah Palin and maybe Jindal are about the only two Republican in the nation that could do that and Palin in my mind is the best choice.

  9. Matt,

    Our old friend Scott over at electionprojection.com sounds quite confident about the Dems’ chances this fall, and we both know he’s no fan. He’s projecting a +300 EV win for Obama and what looks more-and-more like a filibuster-proof Senate majority each day. At the rate we’re going, 2008 may end up looking more like 1932 than 1968.

    Face it, my friend. George W. Bush and his cabal dropped the ball on what was their best chance to capture this country. Now with gasoline prices skyrocketing, the American people want to see his party voted out of office immediately, and nothing, not even Sarah Palin, can save the Goddamn-Old Party.

    Join us, Matt. Become part of the New Democrats. Become an Obamican. We’d be happy to take you. 🙂

  10. Obama/Hagel is a very intriguing option. Hagel brings the foreign policy experience to the table that Obama may need and it would fit with his message of change (in terms of the tone of politics).

    That said, though, there are quite a few very good options for VP available to Obama.

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