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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Top VP Choices for the Contenders

Iowa Caucus Analysis, Wednesday, December 19th
Today, I'll break up the final work week before Christmas with a gimmick column. I've had three readers broach the topic of who the Vice-Presidential nominees might be. It's a great topic. Which potential running-mates would fit best with the seven presidential candidates who have a realistic shot at running in a general election?

Many variables play into the decision making process. Examples include geographical balance, a balance of strengths and weaknesses, trying to fill gaps of experience of the presidential nominee, and also who can mesh well with the candidate on top of the ticket, to name a few.

So here are the top three VP choices for each of the candidates that might actually win and will need someone's hand to hold on the convention stage this summer. We'll do three candidates today, and four tomorrow. (Alphabetical order)

Hillary Clinton
3) Tom Vilsack (Former Governor, Iowa) - Vilsack dropped out of the presidential race to endorse Clinton, leading some to believe a deal was struck in order to ensure a Clinton victory in the Iowa Caucus. He would be helpful in the Midwest, which was swept by President Bush in 2004. However, if Obama or Edwards wins Iowa, which seems likely, the deal's probably off.
2) Bill Richardson (Governor, New Mexico) - With New Mexico and Florida as key swing states, a Latin-American VP brings those two states two the blue column immediately. Richardson will be on every Democrat's short list for many reasons, which we'll get to.
1) Mark Warner (Former Governor, Virginia) - In order to not alienate the entire south, Mark Warner is a very valuable addition to a ticket that is led by a northern Democrat. He was an immensely popular governor of what was considered a red state, bringing executive experience to Clinton's legislative background. The question is: Is he interested in the job? I wrote about this fourteen months ago on my old blog. I think he is.

John Edwards
3) Joe Biden (Senator, Delaware) - Taking a page out of Dick Cheney's playbook, Joe Biden could be a very valuable Vice-President. I can see a President making Biden the point-man on Iraq. No politician is more knowledgeable on the situation and equipped to deal with it, with the possible exceptions of John McCain and John Warner. Biden should accept the offer, as this election is his last whiff of the White House.
2) Wesley Clark (Former Supreme Commander Nato Allied Forces) - Both parties love him, he would be an incredibly capable advisor in military policy, and he is practically attack proof from the Republican propaganda machine. He also has roots in the Midwest, making an Edwards-Clark ticket competitive across the entire country.
1) Bill Richardson - In addition to what was written about him above, Richardson brings a lot of experience that Edwards, the former one-term Senator, does not have. Richardson has been governor, ambassador to the U.N., Energy Secretary (how important is that, these days?), and has served in the House. Perhaps most importantly, Richardson's wealth of experience and skills, but relatively lackluster personality in public, is perfect for a Vice-Presidential nominee who should not steal the spotlight, but should make people at ease about voting for the ticket.

Rudy Giuliani
3) Jeb Bush (Former Governor, Florida) - If Bush wasn't such a radioactive name, we could very well be seeing Jeb on top of most Republican primary polls. He was very popular as governor of a swing state, and conservatives trust the Bush name. This balances evangelical voters who are weary of voting for Giuliani.
2) Rick Perry (Governor, Texas) - How better to ease Republican fears about a New Yorker on top than by putting a Texan on bottom?
1) Charlie Crist (Governor, Florida) - On November 28th's Republican debate, I first floated the idea during a live blog that Crist was interested in the VP slot with any candidate. He makes a ton of sense for the same reasons Jeb Bush does, without fear of the Bush name poisoning the ticket.

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