Thursday, July 24, 2008

McCain's VP Options

There's been a lot of buzz recently that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) will make his VP announcement in the coming days (perhaps as early as today). So, I wanted to take a look at some of the names being thrown around and give my opinion on them. Unfortunately, my news is nearly universally bad.

Leading Contenders

Mitt Romney, former governor of MA. Let me be blunt. Romney would be a horrible choice. While "Christian Conservatives" like him because he wears his faith on his sleeve, when you look up his past, there's little doubt that he's much more than a RINO. Which is unsurprising, frankly. The only way a Republican wins the governorship in MA is if he's a RINO. Now, I'm not one to loathe RINO's as some do. I'm glad they've joined the Republican party and are part of the conservative ideal in at least some areas. And I'm realistic enough to look at the political map and know that if I want someone with an (R) by his name and that person comes from MA, or PA, or CA, or NYC, then they're probably going to be more centrist than I would typically prefer. Anyway, my original point here is that McCain's biggest weakness is support of the base. Adding another RINO/centrist to the ticket doesn't help him at all.

Tom Ridge, current Director Homeland Security, former Senator from PA. See Mitt Romney, above.

Charlie Crist, Governor FL. Crist is more of a true conservative, so would be a good choice based on that, but many want him on the ticket to "secure FL". Once again, I'll be blunt. If McCain needs Crist to "secure FL", then the election is already lost. FL can't be a battleground state for McCain to win. With all the retirees and Jews there, he should be looking at a +5 margin here, minimum. So, if that's your reason for putting Crist on the ticket, look elsewhere. Also, I don't like someone from FL on the ticket because I think it reminds centrists and right leaning Democrats of 2000. I know Crist wasn't involved in that, but I don't think McCain wants to associate himself with the 2000 election in any way shape or form.

Bobby Jindal, Governor LA. He's a young conservative, and dynamic. People like Jindal are definitely the future of the Republican party, if it has a future. However, once again, he has the potential to remind voters of something McCain would rather not mention: Katrina. The other problem with Jindal is risk. He's the governor of the state more noted for corruption in politics than any other. This has been true for close to a century or so. Now, Jindal may be (and probably is) completely clean. However, there's so much political corruption in the state, the likelihood that he can be tied (if only by innuendo and speculation) to someone known to be corrupt is high. The only area that I can think of that's as bad as LA is Chicago, IL. I'd never nominate someone for national office from LA, just as I would not for Chicago.

Joe Lieberman, Independent Democrat Senator from CT. See Mitt Romney. He can't even claim to be a RINO. He's a true blue Democrat that only agrees with Republicans on one issue: Iraq. Now, there is a place for Lieberman on the campaign trail and in the administration, if McCain is bold enough to do it. I've felt for some time now that McCain should name Joe Lieberman as his Secretary of State, and do it before the convention. Lieberman as SoS doesn't hurt McCain with the base like he would as VP, and he still manages to hit Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) where it hurts. Obama may be the first Democratic Presidential candidate to lose the Jewish vote in the last 50 years. Adding Lieberman on as SoS would make that climb even steeper for Obama. It's a win position for Lieberman too, because no matter what, he's serving his last term in the U.S. Senate. Come 2012, the Democrats will work harder than ever to defeat him, and they won't have to defeat him twice like they did in 2006. Also, the Republicans will likely nominate someone who's capable of obtaining more than a couple hundred votes, unlike 2006.

Tim Pawlenty, Governor MN. Pawlenty has his ups and downs. He also comes from a very blue state, and that's obvious in his politics, as for the most part they're fairly centrist. He gets high marks from Republicans on taxes and illegal immigration though. He would appeal to "Christian Conservatives". He won't be able to get MN for McCain, but he might be able to at least bring the state into play and require Obama to spend some time there. He's young an energetic and would add charisma to the ticket, but I'm not sure if he's the man to energize the base. The best thing you can say about Pawlenty is that he appears to have fewer negatives than most of his competition, but he also has few positives.

Personally, I still like Condolezza Rice, but McCain doesn't and she doesn't appear to be interested in the job. Yes, she brings more criticism of McCain being McSame and Bush III, but there's no doubt that she's as smart as a whip, and that she has loads of foreign policy experience. And, it definitely wouldn't hurt to have a black and a woman on the ticket. However, McCain's weak domestically and she doesn't help there. I still think this ticket would be close to unbeatable, but I appear to be in the minority.

I'll be doing a similar, but shorter post on Barack Obama in the coming days, and I know i still need to finish my series on civil liberties. I haven't forgotten it, but other things have had more urgency.

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