Ten Best: Vice-presidential picks

by Amy Kingsley

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) Thejunior senator from New York ended her bid for the Democraticpresidential nomination less than a week and a half ago. During herrun, she built a coalition of white working-class and women voters thatnearly put her over the top. The easiest way for Sen. Barack Obama tobring these folks back into the Democratic fold would be to tap Clintonfor veep. The guy’s smart enough to know that such a move would bring alot of baggage – including a doughy, womanizing Arkansan by the name ofBill. Gov. Charlie Crist (R-Fla.) Crist earned thenickname “Chain Gang Charlie” as a freshman state senator in the early1990s thanks to his vocal support for forced rock-busting as criminalrehabilitation. A moderate with tough-on-crime, easy-on-the-environmentpositions, Crist leads a critical swing state and has stumped for Sen.John McCain since 2006. Those are the pros. The cons include verylittle credibility with the Christian conservatives. The voters who putBush over the top in 2004 will be put off by rumors the unmarried Cristis gay, a deadbeat dad, or both. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) Thegovernor of Louisiana was the youngest sitting state executive in thecountry when he was elected in October 2007. His age, 36, might offsetworries about McCain’s health. Jindal is Indian American, a rarity innational and Louisiana politics. Jindal’s voting record reflects hisCatholic values – he converted from Hinduism when he was in highschool. He is pro-life, opposed to embryonic stem cell research and forteaching intelligent design in schools. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) Webbis this week’s fashionable pick for Democratic veep. The formerRepublican and Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan ispolitically grounded in national security, which is one of Obama’sperceived weaknesses. He might also help the Illinois senator woowhite, working-class voters, particularly in Appalachia where Webb hasfamily. Women might not be so keen on the man, who once urged Congressto keep service academies closed to females. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee(R-Ark.) Huckabeefolded his underfunded presidential campaign early in the primary,after he helped McCain knock off loathsome former Massachusetts Gov.Mitt Romney. The only major presidential candidate to declare hisbelief in Creationism is also a hit among Bible believers in the Southand elsewhere. Unfortunately for McCain, the hammy Huckabee doesn’talways stay within the lines of acceptable political discourse. In theage of YouTube, it only takes one Obama assassination gaffe to sink acampaign. Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) Before Obamastruggled with white, working class voters, he struggled withHispanics. This became less obvious as the primary limped in its lastweeks through Appalachia, the South and the Midwest. Richardson, aHispanic governor with strong diplomatic credentials, might bring waryLatinos into the fold. Then again, he might not. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice PuttingRice on the Republican ticket – even in the second spot – sure wouldtake the shine off Obama’s historic ascendance to the top of a majorparty ticket. It’s hard to dispute Rice’s brilliance and politicalsavvy, but she belongs to one of the least popular administrations inAmerican history. Her presence would carry the stain of the George W.Bush presidency, something McCain doesn’t need. Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-New York) Alifelong Democrat who switched parties to run for mayor in 2001,Bloomberg declared himself an Independent in the middle of last year,fueling speculation of third-party presidential ambitions. He endedthese rumors in February, but pundits from both major political partieshave eyed him as a potential financial and political asset. It’sunclear whether American voters are ready for a Democratic ticketcomposed of an African-American and a Jewish man from New York City,which might make him more attractive to the McCain camp. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) IfMcCain wants to reassert his strength with the American electorate’swide, swishy center, he could do worse than Lieberman, a conservativeJew who shared the ticket with Al Gore in 2000. He shares McCain’scommitment to continuing the war in Iraq, and his religious convictionresonates with a lot of churchgoing voters. He’ll be speaking at theRepublican National Convention, whether his words will include anacceptance of the vice-presidential nomination is still a matter ofspeculation. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kan.) Duringher two terms as state Insurance Commissioner, Sebelius cleaned house -removing corporate influence from an office plagued by it. Her successcatapulted her to the governor’s mansion in a solidly Republican state.A ticket that includes Sebelius might appeal to a lot of Clintonsupporters stung by the senator’s recent concession. Whether she’llhave the same affect on the mountain folk is another questionaltogether.