Obama’s Choice


Link: Obama’s potential running mates – CNN.com.

Now that the nomination is bagged and Hillary is climbing on Obama’s bandwagon on Saturday, the next big topic of speculation is running mates for the two nominees. I don’t read Republican tea leaves with nearly as much interest, so I will only do a little speculation on Obama’s choice.

CNN’s list is pretty comprehensive – it even includes a few outlandish options. It includes Bayh, Biden, Bloomberg (outlandish), Clark, Clinton, Dodd, Hagel (outlandish), Rendell, Richardson, Sebelius, Webb, Daschle, Kaine, McCaskill, Napolitano, Nunn, and Strickland.

But it has a few interesting omissions, and one glaring one.

The glaring one first:

Missing from the list of VPapabiles is someone who is surely getting a lingering look inside the Obama campaign, who could deliver a midwest swing(ish) state, meshes perfectly with Obama by shoring up his experience, his populist economic cred, union support, and older voters. Dick Gephardt. Seems like an odd choice, but consider that Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, is a Gephardt protogé, as are many on the Obama political team. Consider that Dick could likely deliver Missouri and gives Obama greater traction across the heartland. I don’t consider it a likely pick, but Dick is such a favorite among the Obamanation that leaving him out seems like a big oversight.

Some interesting omissions:

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Most people say, "Who?" Exactly. His nomination would create a lot of interest and energy and Brian is as progressive as they come, and canny as hell at beating the GOP at their political games. He’s a damn smart politician who would help Obama tremendously with the "good ol’ boy" vote. He understands the politics of the "New West" very well, and would put not only Montana into play, but likely play tremendously well in swing-states like Colorado and New Mexico, as well.

Vice President Al Gore. Everyone assumes that he wouldn’t play second fiddle again, but Gore has frequently said of late that changing the laws is more important than just changing minds. It is quite possible that given the right latitude and portfolio by Obama, Gore would accept and turn the bully-pulpit of a celebrity Vice Presidency into a powerful cockpit to pilot us through the climate crisis. I don’t think it likely, mind you, but I can assure you that some people are giving it some serious thought.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell. I don’t think this is remotely likely, and I sure as hell don’t support the idea, but it seems like a natural. You have the bi-partisanship angle, the experience in national security (of the wrong sort IMO, which is one reason why I oppose the choice), and the historical moment couldn’t be more propitious for TWO African-Americans to run for the Presidency together in a fusion ticket: powerful symbolism!

Former Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates
. Thinking waaay outside the box here, but he just retired (for real) from operations at Microsoft. He’s got tremendous experience and credibility in world health and economic development. Guiding his multi-billion dollar foundation has given Gates a better education in these humanitarian endeavors than perhaps anyone else on the planet. Gates might be just the sort of dynamo that could transform the way the American government relates to the world, running our foreign aid and development programs like a venture capital fund to bring the world a higher standard of living, and America back to leadership in humanitarian endeavors. Of course, he probably has better things to do…

California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger
. Way wacky, I know. But think on it for a second. He’s moderated his positions quite a bit of late – of necessity – but he’s still got a lot of GOP cross-over appeal and is perceived as even more of a maverick than McCain. And most important, he can’t be President. Isn’t that a problem, you ask? No. There is no requirement that the Vice President be a natural-born citizen of the United States; only the President. He can’t become President if something happened to Obama, but that’s perfect – Democrats wouldn’t want a Republican standing by to replace a Democratic President (that the problem with guys like Hagel and Bloomberg – and Powell, of course). Arnie would be a political placeholder – kind of a court eunuch. The Speaker of the House would become President instead. And at the end of two successful Obama terms, there is no presumptive Democratic nominee waiting in the Vice Presidency. That will make the Clintons happy as it gives them an even playing field 8 years from now. The best option for the Clintons – other than Hillary as VP (which I think is unlikely) – is Arnie as Vice President.

UPDATE: Ah the joys of a well-informed readership. Arizona institution Martin Bacal corrects me, pointing out the 12th Amendment requires any candidate for VP must be constitutionally able to serve as President. Pesky damn Amendments. So, the Governator can’t be VP.

What are your thoughts and speculations. Please don’t just give names; give reasons.

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  1. Nancy Pelosi would be a HORRID CHOICE. She lacks the kind of confidence building name that we need to grab the independents.

    Webb+Tailhook. No need to say more.. keeps him out. Nunn would be a good choice, but he’s been out of the loop too much

  2. Interesting! I was thinking Sam Nunn, too. I hate to think of taking Jim Webb out of the Senate – we need him there. You know, this is like being in a restaurant with an exciting buffet table from which we can choose – it’s wonderful!

    Let me throw two names into the hat: Mark Warner, self-made businessman with an excellent record for his term as Governor of Virgina; Nancy Pelosi – there is nothing I can say you don’t already know. Nancy has qualities I greatly admire – coolth (a word I coined to describe a person who is very together and able to manage in a difficult situation) – smart, savvy, extensive background in government.

  3. Carolyn Kennedy?! Wake up. Nix Hillary in the same sentence.

    Webb and Warner are serious contenders, and Sam Nunn should not be discounted outright. His choice will fortify his flank against the experience/ military/ authority/ patriotism concerns contained in the upcoming GOP salvos.

  4. Is there something I’m missing that would leave Edwards off the list? According to Survey USA Obama/Edwards beats McCain/Anyone by a significant margin and is a better choice than Rendell, Sebelius, or Hagel in Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Mexico and even Pennsylvania! Edwards is consistent with Obama’s message, has apologized for his Iraq vote, and America is already familiar with him, leaving Obama to focus more of his time and money on promoting his message instead of giving more introductions. Few people know Jim Webb or any of Obama’s other choices.

    See polls here: http://www.surveyusa.com/electionpolls.aspx

  5. Caroline Kennedy would be a VERY interesting choice, but clearly doesn’t help him with the lack of foreign policy and military experience. Webb would a good choice if that lack of experience is a serious issue for voters. Though it wasn’t a big deal for the Clinton-Gore ticket in ’92. So maybe Kennedy would work. Damned it would be ironic for someone who spent some of her childhood in the White House to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

  6. Bob, Carolyn Kennedy was mentioned this morning. She’s a fascinating choice but I don’t think a realistic one.

    What has me excited is his selecting Howard Dean to remain on for four years as head of the DNC. As an Edwards supporter, I was forced to decide what criteria I would apply in deciding which remaining candidate to support. After serious consideration, I decided that I would support the candidate who kept Howard Dean on as Chair of the DNC – which Obama has done, bless his soul!!! The 50-State strategy is very important to increasing participation of Democrats everywhere. And participation is the key to the success of Democracy. So, today, I am happy!!!! Ecstatic!! Overjoyed!!! Well, I guess the point’s been made!

  7. Oh, and I almost forgot the choice that’s so blindingly obvious no one’s mentioned it: Caroline Kennedy!

    After all, Dick Cheney was in charge of picking GWB’s veep.

    Hillary’s supporters would have to respect choosing Caroline for a slew of reasons that only start with the fact that she’s a woman. And she extends a political dynasty that Americans *want* to see live on, instead of the Bush/Clinton dyanasties Americans are sick of.

  8. Dick Gephardt is a non-starter. Talk about building a bridge to the 20th century. He screams Washington Insider, and brings back memories of the 1994 massacre. Not a chance.

    Schweitzer is definitely the dark horse in this race. I suspect his odds depend on whether Obama’s internal polling shows Schweitzer bringing any western states more into play than they would be otherwise. He fits Obama’s message perfectly, and *should* have huge appeal with Hillary’s core constituency… if they learn who he is.

    Bill Gates is arguably far more powerful as the world’s biggest philanthropist than he ever could be as veep. Besides, he just left a job to focus on his foundation. Cross him off.

    I think Chuck Hagel isn’t at all outlandish a choice — he offsets McCain’s foreign policy cred, and proves Obama is serious about reaching across the aisle. Plus he brings a lot of those big square states into play. If you’re looking at (former) Republicans to put on the ticket, he’s far more likely than Bloomberg or Ahhhnold.