Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama Gives Clues to VP Selection

In his interview with Time magazine, Obama says the following:

I try to surround myself with people who are about getting the job done, and who are not about ego, self—aggrandizement, getting their names in the press, but our focus on what's best for the American people.

I think people will see that I'm not afraid to have folks around me who complement my strengths and who are independent. I'm not a believer in a government of yes—men.
(italics mine)

What is he telling us? That his selection is not well known ("getting their names in the press") and probably not from the left wing of the party ("independent"). That he's less concerned with shoring up foreign policy credentials than "complementing his strengths": reaching across party, appealing to independents, fighting for "change."

Who does this eliminate? Big name surprises like Al Gore, Clinton, Colin Powell. "Celebrities" like Webb. Liberal favorites like Daschle or Reed.

Who does this favor? More conservative and lesser known Democrats: Kathleen Sebelius, Tom Kaine, and Evan Bayh.

I'd put the order of probability then as this:

Bayh - #1
Kaine - #2 (since they were the leaked names)
Sebelius - #3 (a semi-leak)
Biden - #4 (since he's best known of the leaks, drops down)
Brian Schweitzer - #5 (dark horse surprise: "independent" and relatively unknown. Also, doubles-down on the "change" and "outsider" memes. Reinforces "western" strategy: Helps with Colorado and when making his pick a couple of weeks ago, Montana also looked like it could be in play.)

If it were me, right now I'd place a BUY on Schweitzer in the trade markets. As time goes on, it increasingly looks like Bayh, Kaine, and Biden were a diversion to create higher suspense. Biden may even have been in on it, saying "I'm not the guy," being serious about it (hey, probably a little disappointed but willing to play along, that totally makes sense), then having to roll that back after the press took it too seriously and a little scolding from team Obama, so Obama could keep the suspense building.

Here's what all the evidence says: it can't be Clinton or Gore, but it will be someone unexpected who can generate enthusiasm, yet someone who isn't well known, but is thought of as "independent" but doesn't necessarily bring extensive Washington experience or foreign policy credentials (i.e., complements Obama). That's a pretty hard needle to thread but announcing Schweitzer just might do it.

By the way, if it IS Schweitzer, Nate Silver can say he predicted it first.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you're right about the Bayh, Biden and Kaine being false leads. My wildcard pick is Robert Rubin.