Saturday, July 05, 2008

Vice Presidential Frontrunners - McCain

Okay, let's admit it: the race for McCain's Veep choice isn't nerely as interesting as Obama's. But there's some suspense here...and the playing feel has certainly evolved - so let's review.

First up, since the Republican convention comes after the Democrats', conventional wisdom is that McCain will wait to see what Obama does and then pick second - perhaps even waiting to the convention to make a pick. So how will McCain triangulate this off Obama?

Perhaps the most radical suggestion is, by selecting nobody. That's right, the Wall Street Journal suggests McCain might go into the convention without a VP selection, and leave it up to the delegates to pick, creating political theater as great as the Democrats. While intriguing as a possibility, particularly if Obama makes hay with a high-profile Hillary selection, the odds, I think are unlikely (does McCain really want to the delegates to tell him who he's going to work with for four years?) And besides, suggesting nobody isn't much fun for those of us just interested in the horse race.

No, the conventional wisdom is that if Obama DOESN'T select Hillary, McCain will swoop in by putting a woman on the ticket. Front runners: Palin, Condi Rice, and Carly Fiorina, the ex-CEO of Hewlett-Packard. I think Fiorina is an interesting choice. Kind of like a female Mitt Romney. Of course, she has no political experience and is a bit of a question mark for the conservative base. And Condi - while certainly a clever choice - is really too tainted by Bush. Talk about getting labelled as "Bush Term Three." No, that charge is sticking, so Condi is out. I think my readers are right: as far as the women go, Palin offers a fresh face and popular governor. What's not to like?

But if Obama DOES pick Hillary, McCain will face a money-machine like the Republicans have never seen. Conventional wisdom says he'll go with the guy who can bring in the dough: Romney. I see no reason to buck conventional wisdom on this one.

The dark horse in this equation seems to be Charlie Crist, governor of Florida. With Florida in play, Crist has been positioning himself to be a cleaned up Veep possibility, even going so far as to get engaged. The question here is, are all those rumors about Crist being gay possibly true? If they are, he can forget about it. If not, and he can withstand the intense media vetting, Crist seems to be getting his qualifications in order to deliver Florida into the McCain column. Question will be, then: does McCain need Florida? Probably probably he will.

So the fallout, as it is for Obama, is that everything revolves around Hillary. If she gets the ticket, look for money-bags Mitt Romney to get the nod, or perhaps something completely dramatic to shake up the press at the convention, like "nobody" or Toby Keith (hey, imagine if that happened) or Colin Powell (assuming camp McCain can turn him around).

If Hillary isn't on the ticket and the race starts to tighten, McCain has some room to maneuver and look over the electoral calculus. If scenarios have everything coming down to Florida, Crist moves to the top of the list; if it's the upper midwest McCain needs, Pawlenty is still sitting pretty. If the calculus is looking to win back western states, out comes Palin. And if McCain just wants to throw shit at the wall and shake up the board, Carly Fiorina could get him some valuable press.

I wonder if Hillary ever thought she would end up being so critical not just to Obama's selection, but McCain's as well.


Anonymous said...

Romney adds a net nothing to the ticket; his negatives at least approximate the positives.

McCain NEEDS Alaska Gov Sarah Palin (if he wants to win in November) — whose positives are too numerous to mention here (with no negatives).

– and don’t cite Palin’s lack of experience, since she’s got 10 times that of Obama!!!

Martin Schecter said...

Ted - the lack of political experience comment refers to Fiorina, not Palin.

Martin Schecter said...

Just re-read this.

Hmmm. Looks like I was pretty wrong about Palin. ("What's not to like.")

While she's gone over well with the conservatives, guess I didn't really know anything about her....neither did McCain, apparently.

There was just no preparation for her selection. If McCain had vetted her (so they could pre-defuse the more touchy issues such as pregnancy, Bridge-to-Nowhere, Troopergate, etc.), I think they could have done a much better job of introducing her and defusing the bombshells.