From Nytimes.com/politics Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.)
Some possible vice-presidential picks for the Democratic and Republican tickets.
Potential Running Mates
FOR BARACK OBAMA
Senator from Indiana
Evan Bayh, who once was Indiana’s youngest governor, has made several quick attempts at running for president himself. But he remains beloved in Indiana, and the Bayh brand runs deep across the Hoosier state.
If Barack Obama is serious about competing in Indiana, which Democratic presidential candidates have bypassed for more than a generation, he could well need Bayh on the ticket. And, for all the not-quite-unified Democrats who are keeping track of Obama appointments, he would be a top recruit from Team Clinton.
Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Senator from Delaware
Joseph R. Biden would appear to be a strong contender for the position. His expertise on foreign policy is unrivaled in the Senate – he is the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations and is frequently mentioned as a secretary of state in a Democratic administration – and that would permit him to fill a big hole in Obama’s resume.
He competed with Obama for the Democratic nomination, but there was absolutely no sign of enmity between them. He is garrulous and well-liked; the downside is Biden can be a bit too garrulous at times, with a tendency to get himself (and potentially Obama) in a bit of trouble. And Biden’s age – he will turn 66 this November – might serve as a reminder of Obama’s youth.
Senator from New York
Hillary Clinton has made it clear she would be interested in the position if it were offered. But there is little indication from Obama’s campaign that he wants her as his running mate.
Yes, choosing Clinton would go some distance in quieting the concerns of her supporters and bringing them behind Obama this fall.
But it is hardly clear that this is a particularly large number of voters. Moreover, Clinton brings obvious baggage: she would seem to undercut Obama’s central call for changing the face of Washington. And what is more, with Hillary Clinton comes Bill Clinton.
Former Senator from North Carolina
John Edwards holds a lot of titles bearing the word “former,” including: senator from North Carolina, Democratic presidential candidate and vice-presidential contender four years ago for Sen. John Kerry. That, perhaps, best explains why he may be a long shot to sit atop this year’s list of prospective running mates.
If Obama is serious about winning North Carolina, a state that leans Republican, would Edwards offer enough of an edge to tip the balance? He did not do so four years ago, and Kerry’s aides were critical of the job Edwards did as a running mate – they complained he was too reluctant to attack.
Senator from Nebraska
Yes, Chuck Hagel is a Republican. But he has yet to endorse his party’s presumptive presidential nominee, and his opposition to the Iraq war has grown so strong that he has told associates he would consider joining the Obama ticket.
But would he ever be asked? Hagel’s charm in Washington is rooted in his appeal as a maverick. Is he enough of a team player to play the highly scripted role of No. 2?
Governor of Virginia
Who? Tim Kaine is the governor of Virginia. Few politicians – excluding those from Illinois – signed onto the Obama campaign earlier than Kaine. He is a friend to Obama, and the pair would present an image of youth and excitement, which some Democrats have already compared to the Clinton-Gore ticket of 1992.
The selection would undoubtedly put Virginia into play, but could Kaine be equally helpful as a surrogate-in-chief?
Former Senator from Georgia
Sam Nunn served in the Senate for 24 years and would bring to the ticket the weight that comes with age (he turns 70 in September) as well as foreign policy experience: He was the chairman of the Committee on Armed Services.
Nunn was known for the most part as a conservative Democrat, and he led a high-profile fight against Bill Clinton’s effort to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military. Obama would certainly encounter some heat from his supporters if he turned to Nunn.
Edward G. Rendell
Governor of Pennsylvania
The governor of Pennsylvania could be an awfully tempting choice for Obama in a year in which John McCain is making an all-out effort to wrest the state from the Democratic camp. Obama lost to Clinton in the primary in Pennsylvania, and more than anyone, it was Rendell who steered Clinton to victory. Choosing Rendell would also be seen as an olive branch to the Clinton camp.
That said, one of the things that made Rendell so popular among reporters when he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee was how frank and open he was in offering his opinions, often critical of his own party; that goes directly against the tight-control culture of the Obama campaign.
Governor of New Mexico
If loyalty and political courage are a factor, Richardson surely rockets to the top of the pack.
His endorsement of Obama came long before the outcome of the Democratic primary race was clear, triggering sharp resentment from the Clintons. A former congressman, cabinet secretary and ambassador to the United Nations – and, of course, an unofficial negotiator-to-the-world – he could lend an Obama Oval Office significant heft.
Governor of Kansas
Kathleen Sebelius is not only the governor of Kansas but also the daughter of a former Ohio governor.
Those two credentials offer a biographical bookend that would create a narrative. Obama is searching for: an ability to appeal to red-state voters. Then again, even Sebelius would surely agree that winning Kansas is a stretch for a Democratic presidential candidate, and Ohio voters are looking to the future. Also, if a woman were to be placed on the ticket, could it be anyone other than Clinton?
Senator from Virginia
The military career of Jim Webb could fill a void in Obama’s own resume as he takes on McCain.
Webb is tough, reasoned and experienced. And he could help deliver Virginia for Democrats, a shift that could change the battleground map for years to come.
But any vetting process would have to take into account the vast writings of Webb, a former author, who has penned tales about the Confederacy that are controversial in the eyes of some, as well as his on-the-record comments about women serving in the military.
FOR JOHN McCAIN
Governor of Florida
Charlie Crist’s appeal can be summed up in three words: Florida, Florida, Florida. He is governor of the state, and popular there, and could help John McCain carry the battleground that has been at the heart of the past two presidential elections.
Not incidentally, Crist’s early and vigorous support for McCain helped McCain win the Florida primary in January, a victory that arguably nailed down his candidacy. Crist’s long bachelorhood may have been a political liability, but he proposed to Carole Rome in early July and is said to be thinking of a fall wedding.
Senator from South Carolina
Lindsey Graham is, arguably, McCain’s friend-in-chief. So would it make sense to place him on the ticket? He is a respected member of the senate who has allies on both sides of the aisle.
His campaign experience is vast. Playing the role of attack dog? No problem. Yet Graham is a single man – is that still a challenge to be on a national ticket? And he has occasionally rankled some conservatives by not being conservative enough.
Former Governor of Arkansas
Mike Huckabee is not only a former governor but also a Baptist minister, and he could prove helpful in making sure that evangelical Christians don’t sit out this election. He also ran for president, though showed little strength after winning Iowa.
Huckabee is known as an easygoing man with a sharp sense of humor – sometimes too sharp, which might not be exactly what McCain needs this year.
Governor of Louisiana
Bobby Jindal would in many ways be an out-of-the-box choice that could tempt McCain as a way to shake up the race. The son of Indian immigrants, Jindal is 37 years old and has been governor of Louisiana for less than a year.
Presumably, McCain would be drawn by the age and novelty of such a selection; that said, Jindal is not only young, he looks young – offering a dramatic visual contrast with McCain that might tend to remind voters that McCain is 44 years his senior.
Joseph I. Lieberman
Senator from Connecticut
Hey, why not? Joseph I. Lieberman is certainly experienced at being a running mate – he did it for Al Gore on the Democratic ticket in 2000.
Since then, Lieberman has had a falling out with his party, mainly over the war in Iraq, and now considers himself an independent and as vigorous a supporter of McCain’s candidacy as any bona fide Republican.
Choosing Lieberman would permit McCain to press his appeal to moderate voters put off by partisan politics. That said, Lieberman is also a supporter of abortion rights, and didn’t turn out to be a particularly good candidate for vice president eight years ago.
Governor of Minnesota
Like Mitt Romney, Pawlenty – he is the governor of Minnesota, just in case you didn’t know – has made little secret of his interest in running with McCain. He was one of the first people to endorse him and has been campaigning tirelessly for him ever since. He is young – he will turn 48 in November – and telegenic, and he comes from a battleground state. That said, it is hardly clear that Pawlenty could deliver Minnesota for McCain; he was re-elected there by one percentage point in 2006.
Also, in an election that McCain would like to be about national security, Pawlenty is short on national security credentials.
Former White House Budget Director
Rob Portman served as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Bush, and he is a former congressman from Ohio, a position he held for 12 years – making him an attractive choice geographically and ideologically.
He is popular in conservative ranks and considered a strong and personable candidate. He is also 52 years old, providing a good age balance with McCain.
That said, he worked in the Bush White House, a detail that Obama’s campaign – already looking to portray a McCain presidency as Bush III – would no doubt seize on should McCain put Portman on the ticket.
Former Secretary of Homeland Security
In many ways, Tom Ridge might be an ideal choice for McCain. He is a former governor of Pennsylvania, a state McCain would love to put in play. He was the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. He is also a dynamic presence on a stage, and his moderate politics could help McCain as he appeals to independent voters.
But Ridge is a supporter of abortion rights, and that would be a very risky choice given McCain’s already uneasy relations with conservatives.
Former Governor of Massachusetts
Mitt Romney was one of McCain’s fiercest competitors for the Republican nomination – but since he dropped out, he has done everything for McCain short of dropping off his dry cleaning. (And for all we know, he may even have done that.) Any personal unease between the two men seems to have been put aside.
When it comes to running for the White House, Romney certainly looks the part and would bring some vitality to the ticket. His Michigan roots might help McCain pick off a key state. But conservatives, already wary of McCain’s ideological credentials, would not be reassured by Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts who has a history of evolving positions on issues like abortion and gay rights.
Senator from South Dakota
John Thune is a senator from South Dakota, having earned fame in Republican circles for defeating Sen. Tom Daschle, the Senate minority leader, making him something of a hero in the party. He has a strong personality and has been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2012 or 2016. And he has strong credentials with social conservatives, which could prove a big help to McCain in shoring up his standing among that group.