July 05, 2004

Kerry's VP

So everybody is wondering who Kerry is going to pick to be the Democratic VP nominee. He first tried to get McCain, which some people thought was just talk but reports from the media suggest it was quite serious. McCain, being prickly and independent with a penchant for blunt honesty, has tried to stop the military service attacks against Kerry just like he tried to stop them in the 2000 GOP primary against Bush. It looked like McCain might have been flirting with the nomination, but he's gone on the campaign trail with Bush so it would be mighty awkward having a VP that endorsed the other guy. Now whoever Kerry gets is at best his second choice.

His other choices tend to be reduced to a few. The list is usually three, sometimes more. The big three are Gephardt, Vilsack, and Edwards.

Gephardt won't be the choice if Kerry has a clue what he's doing - which he very likely does not more than half the time. Gephardt is, to be hyperbolic, pro-war, pro-union, anti-trade, big government, big spending, old-style, conservative FDR spendaholic Democrat. Now, that's exaggerated to make a point, to show the direction of Gephardt, it's not exactly true in that most big name politicians ultimately serve the center when it comes down to it.

Kerry is trying to play in this direction: hawkish, union, kinda fair trade, big spending, big government, big military, and so forth. He might be lured into picking Gephardt just to appeal to that image even more. That's why there's a possibility he'll go with Gephardt, but it's a bad idea. He'd be playing way too heavily to unions and hawks, not nearly enough to the anti-war left or to the suburbs - neither of whom especially like Gephardt. He also does not pull independents. He mostly pulls old people and unions, and that's not what Kerry needs to fight for right now.

Vilsack actually decreased Kerry's performance in Iowa polling. Since that should be the one state Vilsack absolutely must deliver, he's a bad pick already. No further examination here.

Edwards cannot necessarily deliver his home state, normally a huge strike against him. However, he likely can deliver other sectors: independent voters, suburban voters, more affluent Democrats, trial lawyers, and surprisngly the left. Kucinich and Edwards teamed up in Iowa caucuses, giving each other a second preference deal. Nader suggested publicly that Kerry pick Edwards.

So Edwards has appeal to indies, the South, the Midwest, the suburbs. It's not huge, but it improves on Kerry. But most importantly, look at Nader's suggestion. Nader, sensing the incompetence of his own campaign and weakness of support even from progressives, likely laid the groundwork for a withdrawal from the race. This way, he can use Edwards' selection as an excuse to hold a meeting or two with Kerry. This is just a theory, but Nader's campaign is failing and an early could save face. If Nader withdrew it would really tighten up the left, which would now be resigned to Cobb - and Cobb will not get a lot of media attention, certainly nothing like Nader's. Edwards shouldn't be picked on the assumption that he'll get Nader out, but it's an interesting thought.

Edwards' appeal to more affluent and suburban voters, as well as the South and Midwest, should be the basis for the choice. He's proven good at appealing to the Democrats making over $100k a year (the so-called limo liberals), but his Southern status could definitely improve the ticket's chances in the South.

It's a good choice, I'd say Edwards.

Maybe if Kerry gets up off his ass and makes a smart decision finally then this race will be competitive - allowing Badnarik to spoil the election and the Libertarians to hold the balance of power in this country. If Kerry can keep the race close then Badnarik can spoil the election from Bush in a few states (FL, WI, NH, NV, OR, maybe OH) and the Libertarians will be the spoilers of 2004, just like Nader was in 2000. It'd be instant coverage for 2008.

So anyway, prediction: Edwards.


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