Monday, April 7, 2008

McCain/??? in 2008

With each day exposing another ugly story that has become the norm of the politics from the Democrat Party, Mr. McCain is in the enviable position (at least to Senators Clinton and Obama) of selecting a running mate. The Maverick broke word of this last week to a group of reporters; admitting his campaign was actively searching to fill the bottom half of the ticket.

Since Al Gore's first stint as vice-president the American people have witnessed the expansion of that particular office. Certainly the case can be argued that no one better personifies the growth of VP power more than Dick Cheney. With every election we see the name on the bottom half of the ticket gain more prestige and therefore the electorate has no choice but to recognize it as a legitimate political office. In the past, comparisons were even made between the American Vice President and the Queen of England; possessing power in title only.

Being in a new political era, polling is now being conducted to attempt to gauge public approval in a potential VP nominee. Speculation was rampant on the Sunday Morning talk shows regarding Secretary Rice's desire to fill the void in the GOP ticket. Also a new poll was published in the Washington Post asking "Who do you support as John McCain's running mate?" 453 republicans said:

Mike Huckabee 18%
Mitt Romney 15%
Condoleezza Rice 8%
Fred Thompson 4%
Ron Paul 2%
Rudy Giuliani 2%
Charlie Crist 2%
Joe Lieberman 2%
Colin Powell/John Edwards/Tim Pawlenty/Newt Gingrich/Bill Richardson 1% each
Cannot Name Anyone 31%

As Chris Cilliza (analyst of the poll) suggests, this does not necessarily represents a candidate's popularity or likability. This was used as a tool to determine name recognition and how familiar the electorate might be with an individual.

Mike Huckabee certainly benefits from being the last man to bow down to McCain, leading the poll here. He is certainly likable on both sides of the aisle but has shortcomings that could prove fatal to McCain's campaign.

In my opinion Governor Romney is the front-runner for VP and the job is his if he so desires. He has the charisma McCain lacks and is capable of carrying the conservative base of the party. He also possesses the economic expertise that is absent within the McCain camp. But these two men loathed each other for over a year and it will be difficult to relinquish any grudges. Romney has made it clear he has not given up on his presidential aspirations yet, but two losses (a primary run and as VP in the general) in the same year would certainly sabotage those expectations.

Condoleeza Rice has been a pioneer and crusader her entire life. She was the first woman to ever occupy the role of National Security Advisor and the first African-American woman to become Secretary of State. There is no question she is immensely qualified in terms of foreign experience, a pivotal platform in McCain's bid. With arguably the most daunting task facing McCain being winning over the conservative base of the GOP, Rice would certainly have to explain why she was a registered member of the Democrat Party until 1982, not a bright public relations move by McCain. She has also proven quite wobbly on abortion, a key issue to "values voters".

So what does all this mean? Exactly what the poll suggests possibly. The right man (or woman) for the job has yet to step into the spotlight. One thing is certain: Senator McCain needs to make a decision quickly so the GOP can have its house in order while there is still bedlam running rampant within the Democrat Party. McCain & Company would have a significant advantage in getting fund raising flowing at optimum levels as well as perfecting the message of the campaign.

The clock is ticking Senator McCain. But I would like to leave by advising everyone out there that regardless of how optimistic and uplifting the political climate might be for the GOP right now:

Never underestimate the unique ability the Republican Party possesses in blowing an election.

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