The Dream Ticket
The media, as well as the talking heads that they prop up, have made a deal of exceptionally loud noise about a unity ticket in which Obama makes his chief rival, Hillary Clinton, his running mate for the fall. This so called “dream ticket” scenario is a very, very bad idea.
If Obama does choose Senator Clinton, the move does not bolster him in any state where A) he lost to Clinton and is polling poorly against John McCain, or B) he won, but is polling poorly against McCain. There is no sustentative polling data at the time of this writing that suggests otherwise.
Further, in the general election, the role of VP candidate is to campaign for the person on the top of the ticket and say why that person should be president. That role would be kind of hard for Clinton, when she and her husband just spend the past year saying why he isn’t qualified, and why someone with experience, Senator McCain, would be a better choice for the voters.
There is no doubt that, at this very moment, the RNC is readying a backlog of sound bites from both Hillary Clinton and the former President, and they’re preparing to unleash them in print, radio, and television ads in states like Michigan and Ohio, two must wins for Democrats to take back the White House.
The idea of Senator Clinton being on the Democratic ended when her campaign ended. Having her on the ticket would hurt, not help Obama, it doesn’t help him win any state, and it provides fodder for Republicans.
Those who know that Hillary cannot be Obama’s VP have suggest that the best way to unite the party is for Barack Obama to nominate a prominent Clinton supporter for the job, which is actually a good idea. One of the names often suggested are Gen. Wesley Clark.
Wes Clark is still popular among Democrats. The four star general became something of a star himself when he launched his populist 2004 White House bid. The trouble is that the Arkansas native has been virtually absent from mainstream politics ever since.
Though Clark can be an effective campaigner for Obama and close his creditability gap when it comes to foreign policy, he doesn’t do something that a VP needs to do, which is to bring a region or a state to the table.
If it can be argued that Clark was ever deep into politics, then he has surely been out of politics too long to be able to provide any regional benefit to Democrats come November. Having him on the ticket would only reassure democratic voters who are likely to support Obama anyways, and not bring anyone new to the table.
Basically, he would be about as effective as John Edwards was for Kerry. For historical reference, Kerry lost Edwards’ home state of North Carolina.
A Short List that Makes Sense
An effective shortlist of candidates will provide Obama with a regional advantage in the Midwestern states, where the electoral vote rewards are high, where voters are blue collar, hardworking, and middle class, in other words, the core of the Democratic Party.
The closest states are Ohio, (with its 20 electoral votes), Michigan (17), Iowa (7), Wisconsin (10), Missouri (11), and Indiana (also 11). These states represent must win territory for Obama in the fall. A loss of Ohio and Michigan spells almost certain defeat.
The best kind of a candidate to put on the ticket to reach out to voters in these states is a former or current democratic Governor. Such a candidate has already made a connection with his constituents, and the message has already been well received. This is the kind of proven leadership that wins elections.