Why there is only one plausible female Republican running mate

July 13, 2008

It’s Condi, not Sarah, Kay or Carly

There is strong speculation that McCain will try to make history by choosing a female running mate, either as a gesture in itself, or as a response to Obama choosing a female running mate. My view is that there is only one credible female candidate, Condoleezza Rice. Now, by saying that there is only one credible female Republican candidate I am not denigrating female politicians, or trying to be a chauvinist. The fact is that the pool of female Senators and Governors is sadly very small, so it is logical that McCain should have extremely limited options when I think there are only two strong male running mates (Lieberman and Giuliani) and several reasonable choices (Ridge, Huntsman Jr & Alvarez). Indeed, in addition to the Secretary of State only Sarah Palin, Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Carl Fiorina have been tipped by commentators.

Firstly, I think that the political benefits of choosing a female running mate are wildly overestimated. The ‘Hillary-istas’ (women who supported Hillary because she was a woman) will eventually return to Obama, or support McCain, irrespective of the gender of any running mates. In fact Hillary Clinton fans might actually prefer to wait until 2012 so that Hillary can run again, and not look kindly on a woman who tried to steal any limelight that they felt belonged to Hillary Clinton. The only exceptions to this are single African-American women who identify more with Condi’s story than that of Hillary’s. Choosing a female running mate in response to Obama might even look like pandering. More importantly, I think that Sarah Palin lacks the experience; Kay Bailey Hutchinson is too much of a Republican hack while Carly Fiorina would be a disaster.

Indeed, Carly Fiorina represents the worst side of the Mitt Romney wing of the Republican Party. I don’t much care for Romney but at least he took the time to be elected to an office before running. In contrast, Fiorina not only put profit (and stock options) before patriotism but she has never shown any inclination for public service whatsoever. She is an execrable campaigner, who didn’t even both to read up on McCain’s record on abortion before she tried to make up social policy on the hoof. While Lieberman, Rice and Giuliani are all pro-choice they would be savvy enough to make sure people knew that McCain was in charge of that area. Although many people say she would help McCain in terms of economics, the fact her experience in that area would lead many people to believe that her presence in the Naval Observatory would let the CEO wing of the Republican party continue to run riot in a McCain administration. After all, while most Americans accept that free trade and balanced budgets are necessary for the American dream, they are also tired of the ‘no-government anarchism’ that a vocal minority in the Republican party support.

Sarah Palin is also overrated. As Jindal’s problems in Louisiana demonstrate, it is patently absurd to lionize anyone before they have had a chance to prove themselves and, more importantly, shown that they can face adversity. There is also the question of whether McCain really wants a candidate who disagrees with him on energy policy and whose state is associated with big oil. There is also the risk that voters in Alaska might not vote for McCain/Palin ticket because they would rather have her as governor, rather as their Vice-President. Such sentimentality may sound silly but, as William Weld found out in 1996, it can sometimes have a very powerful impact on voters. In any case McCain should be trying to use his choice to turn blue states red, not to nail down far flung outposts that are relatively unimportant in electoral terms.

There are also positive reasons for picking Rice. Although she may have been underwhelming as Secretary of State and more mercenary and ‘neo-Condi’ in her beliefs than anything else, she does has enough credentials and experience to credibly assume the office of President. Also, with her on the ticket the temptation to revisit Iraq would be too tempting for even the newly disciplined Obama campaign. Even if I am sceptical of the necessity of choosing a women from an electoral perspective, I also believe that if McCain has to choose a mainline conservative (though he needs to choose a centrist) it would be nice to choose one who is as different from a while male as possible. At a minimum choosing Condi would signal that the Republican party is prepared to move with the times. I also believe that there is a significant minority of African-American voters who were turned off by the whole Wright-gate incident to the extent that, while they were not prepared to reward Hillary’s references to ‘hard working White people’, they are prepared to cross party lines in November provided appropriate gestures are made. Indeed, I firmly predict that choosing Condi would enable McCain to do much better among African-American voters than Bush did in 2004, even adjusting for potentially higher turnout.



  1. Choosing Condoleezza Rice as McCain’s running-mate would be the single most disastrous move for the campaign, short of choosing Jeb Bush. To suggest her simply because of the simplicity of her being a well-established African-American woman is a masterpiece is specious reasoning, and an over-simplification of American politics.

    My reasons:

    1. Bush III: Condoleezza Rice is the 3rd-highest ranked member of the Bush Administration. Choosing her would make it impossible for McCain to distance himself from the George W., the most unpopular president in a lifetime. As NSA, her fingerprints are all over the Administration’s complete mishandling of intelligence leading into 9/11, the War in Iraq, and the complete failure of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy. The 2008 election would become a referendum on the Bush Administration, and that’s a war that even Karl Rove can’t win.

    Also, expect Colin Powell to become a much more vocal supporter of Sen. Obama should Rice become VP. She represents everything he couldn’t stand about the Administration: incompetence getting promoted. He was a better Secretary of State and he knows this just as well as Bloomberg knows he was a better mayor than Giuliani.

    2. She would unite the far-left: Sec. Rice is as despised by the left as Hillary is by the right. Liberal groups would have a field day running ads on her testimony to the 9/11 Commission and her contradictory claims about Saddam’s threat-level before 9/11. Any skepticism with Sen. Obama over trivialities such as FISA would be quickly forgotten. The threat of a Vice-President Rice is a cause they’ll fight with all their power to stop.

    3. “Where’s the beef?”: Secretaries of State rarely make their way to the presidency or vice-presidency in US politics. Why? Because their experience lays in foreign policy and diplomacy, not domestic matters. This was a main reason for Truman’s unpopularity during his first-term: his successes abroad didn’t translate to better-living at home. Can anyone here honestly picture Sec. Rice giving a speech about a balanced budget, or about improving the economy? McCain needs somebody who can counter his economic shortcomings if he’s ever going to stand a chance in November.

    4. Her “let them eat cake” moment: During the most brutal, traumatic moments of Hurricane Katrina, The Drudge Report and Gawker reported: “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently enjoyed a little Broadway entertainment. And Page Six reports that she’s also working on her backhand with Monica Seles. So the Gulf Coast has gone all Mad Max, women are being raped in the Superdome, and Rice is enjoying a brief vacation in New York. We wish we were surprised.

    “What does surprise us: Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.”

    The New York Daily News also reported Secretary Rice getting booed after laughing the night away seeing Spamalot. Granted she was in no way responsible for the Administration’s disastrous response to Katrina, she couldn’t have found herself in a worse spot during the disaster. Her only saving grace was that she wasn’t photographed, like Bush during his infamous “fly-over” (which was staged).

    5. Loose “morals”: Just as the GOP’s religious and social conservatives sunk the Harriet Miers nomination faster than you could say “Bork’d!”, something tells me this interview Rice had on 60 Minutes will resurface should she become McCain’s running-mate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65r_eKaeWl0.

    Also, the fact that she’s both unmarried and childless won’t make her any more identifiable with today’s soccer moms.

    6. Over-simplification of race vs. party: It’s simply illogical to assume that single, African-American women will gravitate towards McCain over Obama by throwing Condoleeza Rice into the mix. Vice-Presidents are supposed to be a crutch in an election, not a secret-weapon. Nothing is going to change the fact that it is Sen. Obama on top of the Democratic ticket, and Sen. McCain on the top of the Republican.

    If the Democratic primaries are to serve as any indicator as to how the 2008 election will unfold, it’ll most likely be a strong showing by African-Americans for Sen. Obama. A Republican by any other race, gender, or creed will still be as unpopular as any other Republican in 2008. (Also, that’s without all the nasty things The Washington Post, The Black Commentator, TransAfrica have spoken about Sec. Rice’s standing within the African-American community.)

    In short, I am sincerely hopeful that McCain is myopic enough to select Sec. Rice as his running-mate!

  2. Tipster,

    You left out one very credible woman that for some bizarre reason gets no mention…Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle. I would like your thoughts on her.

    As for me, four updates…forgive any redundance.

    1) My site has moved. The new site is http://www.tygrrrrexpress.com

    It requires registration, aka a username and password. This is to weed out the trolls.

    2) My new radio show on Blogtalk radio is on every Wednesday 7:30-9:30pm PST, 10:30pm-12:30am EST.

    Below is the clip of my debut show.


    3) My Presidential Campaign Commercial


    4) I am appearing at the laugh factory on Tuesday, July 22nd.

    Right to Laugh night of conservative comedy for Tuesday, July 22 at the world famous Laugh Factory on the Sunset Strip (8001, just East of Laurel). 323-656-1336. Doors open at eight, tickets are just twenty dollars ($30 for VIP seating).

    Stay well always, and let me know if you would like anything promoted.

    eric aka the Tygrrrr Express

  3. I think the right woman (no pun) might be helpful to the McCain candidacy. I would like to see someone like Christie Todd Whitman. Her drawback is that she was or is pro choice (she could be against abortion, but still advocate a woman’s right). There are many conservatives who hold that view, so I don’t think that her former pro choice stance would keep McCain from being elected. Those that he would lose because of that issue, might be balanced by those that he would gain.

  4. MM how about Olympia Snow? Highly respected by both Democrats and Republicans, knowledgble and moderate.

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