By selecting a running mate from Tennessee, which is next door to his Arkansas, Gov. Bill Clinton has caused many to think of it as a regional ticket.
After yesterday's announcement, Republicans, whose base the South has been, were quick to denounce Sen. Albert Gore Jr. as more liberal than Southerner.
By Southern standards, he does have a relatively liberal voting record in the Senate. But by the traditional ways of measuring liberalism in politics, Senator Gore is closer to the center of the ideological spectrum than most non-Southern Democrats.
Both governor and senator are popular in the South, if you go by voting histories. In 1988, as a presidential candidate, Senator Gore got more votes than any other candidate in the Southern states on Super Tuesday. He carried five states. In 1992, Governor Clinton swept the South on Super Tuesday.
But it would be a mistake to think of this ticket as regional. For one thing, Republicans are correct that the South is still Bush country.
It is possible that the symbolism of having two Southerners on the ticket for the first time would change that significantly, but it is unlikely. It will take a surge of regional pride. A recent poll of the region for the Atlanta newspapers showed Governor Clinton third. He got a mere 22 percent of the white male vote in that survey.
Messrs. Clinton and Gore do not seem, on the basis of their remarks yesterday, about to run a regional campaign -- but rather a generational one. Both are Baby Boomers, running against a 68-year-old president, and they talked over and over about the need for change, change, change.
Senator Gore brings strength to the ticket where it needs it -- in such areas as the environment, national security and foreign policy. He also has a good record on family issues.
As a Vietnam veteran, he balances the ticket -- and can make a point of opponent Dan Quayle's military history.
Few Americans vote on the basis of vice presidential candidates. But according to polls, some 7 percent said they did last time, almost all of whom voted Democratic.
Vice President Dan Quayle is not much more popular and respected today than he was then. If Senator Gore is as good a campaigner as some Democrats say he is, the Gore-Quayle matchup may be very helpful to Bill Clinton.
Susan Estrich, Michael Dukakis' campaign manager in 1988, has already suggested a line of attack on Mr. Quayle: "[Senator Gore] proves you can be good looking and smart at the same time."