The choices for VP could be more important than ever

CELEBRITY NEWS

August 20, 2008|By LIZ SMITH | LIZ SMITH,TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

IT AIN'T worth a pitcher of hot spit!"

This is how John Nance Garner described the office of the vice president of the United States.

But these days it seems to mean more.

I feel the long primary process, running up to the Democratic and Republican conventions, has exhausted potential voters and many are disillusioned. There is definite "buyer's remorse" over Barack Obama's nomination and in New York he has dropped more than 10 points in his lead. John McCain was never a big favorite of conservative Republicans and as he swerved to the right, he erased his attractive maverick image and irritated middle-of-the-road and independent voters.

Both candidates are imperfect. So perhaps the choice of a running mate has never been so important, except for when JFK selected Lyndon Johnson. Even when Hillary Clinton isn't listed anymore as a running mate, people invariably drift into speaking of her or writing her in on many polls. She made quite an impact and many believe Obama should be brave enough to risk alienating some of his supporters because she'd help him in the race.

In a CBS poll of Democratic delegates, taken after the John Edwards debacle, Clinton ended up at 28 percent, Joe Biden had only 6 percent and Evan Bayh, Bill Richardson and, get this, Edwards, tied at 4 points each.

Among the Dems

Biden, a senator from Delaware, seems like Obama's favorite. He is good-looking, smart, capable and knows international affairs. Of course, he talks too much but lately seems to have "caught on" to his faults. The problem is he is very much a Senate veteran so forget the "change" idea. He also sucks all the air out of the room (shades of Bill Clinton).

If Obama selects either Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas or Claire McCaskell of Missouri, I don't think it will help him. Women would say, "Why not Hillary in that case?"

Richardson is a good guy who'd appeal to Latinos, but I think he's made for a Cabinet post. Bayh and Chris Dodd. Come on - way too steadfast, old-fashioned, not meant for the "change" ticket. Virginia hasn't voted for a Democrat in ages, so Gov. Tim Kaine could double down on "change." He has an important swing state and a chance.

Caroline Kennedy, who is on the selection committee? Well, it's quite an idea. I don't know what she'd deliver, but she is good-looking, smart, well-educated, rich, connected, very much her own person. No scandal has ever touched her, though people are not crazy about her husband.

And the GOP

Now about McCain. Let me just quote something from the onetime Bush finance chairwoman of New York City, Rita Hauser. She says: "He doesn't listen carefully to people and make reasoned judgments. If John says, 'I'm going with so and so, you can count on that,' you can't count on that the next morning." Mrs. Hauser has now sided with Obama.

Would McCain select Joe Lieberman? If so, he'd get credit for bipartisanship, yet I think this idea is the pits. Both Republicans and Democrats can't stand Joe.

There is a real case to be made for Mitt Romney, in spite of those heated primaries. He's young, handsome, has economic grounding and has been a chief executive. But he comes off as such a hypocrite, too ambitious and then, he's a Mormon. That shouldn't count against him, but go figure. It does.

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