Obama and Clinton – the ticket to win it
Hillary Clinton would be the wisest choice for vice president.
Common wisdom dictates that the vice president should provide balance to the ticket by representing a different part of the country, another set of experiences, or a basketful of electoral votes.Skip to next paragraph
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When I served on the committee that advised Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton on choosing a running mate in 1992, he gave us only one piece of guidance: "I want someone who can be president." So all candidates were carefully vetted.
When Governor Clinton met with Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee, the two clicked. Senator Gore was from a neighboring state and another progressive Southern politician. He provided a mere handful of electoral votes. Rather than broadening Clinton's constituency, the two men overlapped and reinforced each other. But Gore added one important dimension – a degree of gravitas aided by his foreign policy experience.
Barack Obama's choice of running mate has to be his alone. What can he learn from 1992?
The presumptive presidential nominee must have trust in his running mate, no matter who he or she is, and that person has to be carefully vetted. The vice presidential candidate does not usually make much difference at the polls. But that may be changing as voters become more aware that the understudy must be ready to take over if needed.
That's why Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton may be the wisest choice. Senator Clinton's constituencies – women and working class voters – would bring the finishing touch to Senator Obama's ticket. And as an older, more experienced person, she may also bring a level of gravitas, not unlike what Gore provided for Bill Clinton.
She has the further advantage of having been thoroughly vetted by the media and by some 18 million voters. Within a hair's breadth of winning the nomination herself, she showed that a sizable constituency considered her qualified to be president – the ultimate litmus test for a vice presidential candidate.
Clinton's priorities were extraordinarily similar to Obama's, making it likely they would reinforce each other rather than compete.
The disadvantages ,though, of Clinton as VP are almost as obvious as the advantages: Can she be effective in second place? Can she support his agenda as enthusiastically as she did her own? Some say she represents old politics, contradicting his campaign theme of change. They can't forget some of the tough words she hurled at Obama during the primary battle. Then there is the trust factor. Can Obama and Clinton be at ease with each other, both on stage and off, both on the campaign trail and in the White House?