Posts Tagged ‘Vice President’

Fifty-three years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. This was a bit before my time, but those who do remember often divide the country into “before the shooting” and “after”. This got me thinking about two other untimely deaths that directly impacted this year’s presidential election.

The first, and more recent, was Beau Biden, Delaware’s attorney general and the Vice President’s eldest son. Like President Kennedy, the younger Biden was forty-six, had served his nation in wartime, and considered to have much more life in him when he was struck down. His passing deeply affected his father who, driven at least partially by grief (and by word from President Obama that he favored Hillary Clinton as his successor), passed on another run for the White House. This was a big loss for the Democrats. Biden represented an important justification for the Democratic party. The Democrats are the party of a larger government that steps in sometimes because bad things can happen to good people. It could be the community ravaged by a hurricane or a victim or child abuse – sometimes life can be terribly unfair, but the government can alleviate a little of that unfairness. Joe Biden, who suffered the loss of his first wife and his daughter in a car crash (that also injured Beau and brother Hunter), was an embodiment of that idea. Meanwhile, the Clintons, while spending almost no time outside of government or the non-profit sector in the past 25 years, somehow managed to leverage their political contacts into a $200 million fortune.  In doing so, they embody something people don’t like about big government – that while in concept, politicians can alleviate life’s unfairness, in reality, they just exaggerate it.

The second was in 1999 – President Kennedy’s son, John. He would have turned fifty-six years old this coming Friday. In some key ways, John Jr. was a more suitable successor than Mrs. Clinton. Like President Obama, he may have inherited his father’s name, but he was more deeply influenced by his mother. His personal life, like Obama’s, was largely scandal-free – no mean feat for a member of his clan. In short, he could have afforded to be a jerk if he wanted to be, but by most accounts, he didn’t act that way.  He was an urban liberal of the “good-government” variety who unlike the 2016 nominee wouldn’t describe the Republicans as his “enemy”.  His Uncle Ted and his sister Caroline were instrumental in helping then-Senator Obama’s campaign gain a strong foothold in the 2008 Democratic primary so there may have been the possibility of a family favor returned.  Had he lived, there’s a good chance John Jr. may have run for the governorship in Albany or a Senate seat in Washington, and it’s hard to see him losing. He could have been in a prime position in a primary – an attractive liberal idealist running against the Nixonian will-to-power pragmatist Mrs. Clinton.  I would have liked his odds.  Alas, the caution he displayed in politics and in his publishing career didn’t carry over to his flying.

This does not relieve the Democrats (or the Republicans for that matter) of their responsibility for choosing a poor nominee.  There were still other possibilities who could have made a better race of it.  But I think it is only fair to note that their lineup of contenders was shorthanded.  Tragedy had taken two of their most viable options off the table.




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The Ryan Choice

A few thoughts on Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate:
– Ryan’s really young for this. He looks like he’s still running for student council president.
– On the other hand, Ryan is no Dan Quayle or Sarah Palin. He’s a genuine idea guy. He’ll be able to hold his own intellectually on the campaign trail, with one possible exception …
– Defense and foreign policy is a concern. Neither Romney nor Ryan is experienced in that area. (I think it is a genuine shame that no member of either ticket has served a single day in the military.) Ryan will need to study up to make sure he meets the challenge former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden is sure to pose to him in the vice presidential campaign.
– Ryan does offer the chance to make Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa more competitive. I don’t know that he offers much in Pennsylvania or Ohio (even though he attended college there). In Florida, his views on Medicare and Social Security might make some seniors nervous.
– This pick makes the campaign less of a ‘referendum’ campaign and more of a ‘choice’ campaign. It makes it marginally more difficult for Romney to win, but it helps him to have an ideological mandate to act if indeed he does win. In a turnout election, Ryan increases the enthusiasm factor of people on the right.
– In conclusion, the pick, like most VP choices, is a wash. The people will concentrate their focus on Obama vs. Romney. Let’s get it on and get it over with.

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Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard indicates that Romney may be picking his VP on Thursday. Word is Rep. Marsha Blackburn (a member of the 1TF shortlist from July 10th) will be in Richmond, Virginia this Thursday for a “Women for Romney” fundraiser. From there it’s a quick trip up to wherever Romney would need her to be as he starts his bus tour. The logistics seem to work out quite well if she is indeed his choice.

– 1TF

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While I stick to my earlier post on likely Vice Presidential nominees, two others from the Upper Midwest may be worth mentioning.  The current press gallery favorite, Tim Pawlenty, does have a decent shot, aided by his decade of gubernatorial experience.  So does another midwestern governor who is almost never mentioned. Terry Branstad has been a governor for 18 years.  First, he was governor from 1983 until 1999, taking over a state with a budget deficit and 8.5% unemployment and leaving it with 2.5% unemployment and a record budget surplus.  Then after a 12-year hiatus, he won the governorship again in 2010.  The Tea Party folks may not be big fans of Branstad, who is more of a pragmatist, but since be 66 on Inauguration Day and unlikely to run for President in his own right, perhaps they’d be willing to swallow hard and support the ticket, knowing they get a clear shot at being Romney’s successor.  Romney and Branstad can point to having extensive successful executive experience.  Obama and Biden?  Not so much.

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There is a lot of chatter about the possibility of Mitt Romney choosing Condoleeza Rice for vice presidential nominee. Let me pose a question: What are the odds that a Republican nominee who already is not trusted by his party’s base is going to choose a running mate who hails from a state he can’t lose, lives in a state he can’t win, is pro-choice, has nothing in her record to assure the base she favors small government and was intimately involved with the Iraq War? The question answers itself. It’s not going to happen.


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Mitt Romney should be choosing his vice presidential running mate in the next month or so. Speculation swirls around Senators Rob Portman and Marco Rubio and Governors Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal. It won’t be any of them. Rubio and Jindal are just a little too young. Portman is too closely tied to the George W. Bush Administration, which is still a political liability. Chris Christie, while seen by many as a potential president, isn’t really a #2 kind of guy.

I suspect the real attention in Romneyland centers on four candidates. In alphabetical order, they are:

1) Rep. Marsha Blackburn, 60, Tennessee – Smart, experienced and maybe the most conservative of the four. Would bring a historical element to the ticket. She would attract Tea Party support without losing the votes of suburban women to the degree Palin did. The story of how she led a conservative revolt against an income tax plan by a Republican governor will be gold to Tea Partiers, but it’s also a lesson in sunlight in politics that ought to have some appeal to moderates and independents.

2) Fmr. Gov. Mike Huckabee, 55, Arkansas – He’s already been vetted via his 2008 run. Would connect with evangelicals in a way Romney can’t. Problem is Romney and Huckabee appeared to dislike each other in 2008. Huckabee stuck around long enough so Romney couldn’t coalesce the anti-McCain vote to himself. Considering no Republican was going to beat Obama after the September 2008 financial meltdown, Huckabee may have done Romney a favor.

3) Gov. Bob McDonnell, 58, Virginia – Steady, competent, likeable. Has managed his state to a continued enviable business record. He is the only one of these four from a battleground state. His 21-year Army Reserve career gives him more military experience than the entire Obama national security team combined.

4) Sen. John Thune, 51, South Dakota – If Romney think he needs someone who intimately knows DC, the tall, telegenic Thune, having spent most of the past 25 years in the circus on the Potomac, fits the bill. Socially conservative, but may not be greeted with open arms by fiscal conservatives, since he voted for TARP and has requested a lot of earmarks. However, he does know a thing or two about running in tough races, having lost a Senate race by an eyelash in 2002 and coming back to beat then-Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004.

Any of these four would be a solid nominee. More importantly, any of them could more than adequately fill the role of President should, God forbid, it become necessary. This is Romney’s first real Presidential decision. He needs to consider not just what is good for him in the political short-term, but what is in the long-term best interests of the country.


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