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Guest Blog Pundit Matthew Sawh: Some Possible Dark Horse Vice-Presidential Choices for Obama

  Obama's Dark-Horse Veep List:

1.   Senator Russ Feingold:
    The strongest counterpoint to the McCain aura of reform and cleaning the corporate system up.  If Senator Obama is truly serious about challenging the 'Iraq Mindset' he needs to strongly consider Russ towards the top of the list. His selection would generate a serious debate about America's role in the world and its ideals at home.  He is the other piece of the McCain Campaign Finance Bill. Additionally, he is the only senator to vote against the PATRIOT Act in 2001.  This may be the highest-risk and highest-reward prospect in the Democratic line-up. Still, Feingold's vote for Obama in the Wisconsin primary makes it possible and plausible. Could a constitutional law professor (Obama) make his point about the Iraq Mindset using the reformist aura of Mr. Feingold? He also plays into the generational dynamic that Obama has against McCain. Feingold is in his fifties and, his Jewish faith won't hurt amidst the Farrakhan issues.
    Negatives: Introduced Censure of President Bush, Is that a new politics? Voted for John Ashcroft. 

2. Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

    Jewish (a plus with the Farrakhan brouhaha in the papers and, a key group in Florida). Another M.B.A. at a time when we appear to be drifting towards recession.  Philanthropy background may give him a unique perspective on the proliferation of national and international NGOs.  Impairs of the ability of the Chief GOP spokesman about the War on Terror (Rudy Giuliani) to go after an Obama/Bloomberg ticket given Rudy's strong support for Bloomberg in the Fall of 01.  Legitimate continuing gains in falling crime, Perceived Gains in Education policy
    Negatives: Earlier sexual harassment claims, stridently pro-choice; opposes Iraq withdrawal timeline. Too gruff for the country?
    UPDATE:  New York 1 is reporting that in an interview on "Inside City Hall" Friday night, Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey promoted the idea of an Obama-Bloomberg presidential ticket – and revealed that Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke Thursday with the Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama.

3. General Colin Powell:
     Recently, Mr. Powell has speculated that he might endorse a Democrat in the upcoming presidential campaign.  Would the 'good soldier' be willing to fight against his old bosses? Probably not.  Still, the potential to reinforce many of the messages of an Obama candidacy -- unity, diversity and a new approach -- could be reinforced by Powell in many the same ways that Gore reinforced Clinton in 1992. The founder of 'America's Promise’ and the man who coined the Powell doctrine would be a powerful critic of the Iraq War and would make this election truly a referendum on Bush and the run-up to Iraq. Press accounts from 1996 suggest Powell was hesitant to enter the race because of his standing as a giant above politics.  Since that halo has since been tarnished by a UN performance, he may be more willing to entertain such notions now.
    Negatives: How would the Democratic base receive a man who said that the Contract with America was a 'little too harsh and hard'? Would Alma Powell support the decision?  Would he? Is the country ready? He's also 71.

4. Senator Kent Conrad:
    Compelling life story (orphan); Critic of spending habits of Bush administration; Moderate on abortion and gun control issues; Very popular democrat in very Republican State; Critic of deals like NAFTA may help in the industrial Midwest. He voted against the Iraq War in 2003. Further, he presents well on Television.
    Negatives: Wouldn't lock up a swing state as would say an Ed Rendell. No added heft on the War on Terror front and since he voted against the 1991 Gulf War Act it may be a liability.

5. Senator Jon Corzine:
    Served in the Marine Corps; Has an MBA at a time when the economy is slowing and McCain by his own admission is lacking in economic detail.  May help the party define a vision which successfully bridges the industrial and information ages. He voted against the Iraq War. Further, his co-Authorship of Sarbanes-Oxley which cracked down on corporate fraud is a plus. 
    Negatives: Ex-Wife nastiness, Plays into perception of 'elitist' democratic party of the very wealthy.  Risks of Machine-tendency taint within NJ politics. Will his fingerprints arise on any subprime involvement?

6. Governor of Wisconsin Jim Doyle:
    Peace Corps member [what greater way to claim heir to the New Frontier]  Worked with Native Americans providing legal services; early Obama supporter; Swing state within a swing region; President of Nat Association of Attorney Generals augurs interestingly for the Democratic argument about prosecuting the War on Terror;  Early and enthused Obama supporter.                                                                                                                              Negatives: In an anti-incumbent mood, the whiff of scandal proves quite a problem. Georgia Thompson controversy wherein a state employee was accused of steering a contract to a firm politically connected with his campaign.

7. Senator Chris Dodd:
    Fluent in Spanish, Peace Corps member, Catholic, Watergate '74 Class [familiar terrain: how to restore faith in government] Family and Medical Leave Act Author.
    Negatives: Banking ties; Carbon tax for global warming won't play well in Midwest and plays into liberal narrative Obama must be very careful to avoid. As with any senator serving at length, votes can be twisted easily. 

  • RIght On said:

    Kudos to the blogger who thoroughly offered some thoughtful consideration of different VP choices before Obama.  Sawh did a nice job of interrogating the lesser-considered points about the more popular choices and did a nice job of presenting some candidates who people aren't really discussing.  Great post.

    I'm thinking Obama-Bloomberg '08.

    March 7, 2008 6:03 PM
  • Tyler said:

    Good post, especially in this time where we're all obsessed with (1) the Texas result and the Pennsylvania primary, (2) the status of Michigan and Florida, and (3) the infighting between Clinton and Obama.  It's nice to consider the veep possibilities beyond the obligatory "Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton" tickets, which are pretty unlikely.

    I'd also include folks like Bill Richardson and Wesley Clark on that list, though they are better known options than the ones you mentioned.  Thank you.

    March 7, 2008 8:16 PM
  • Sage said:

    Interesting suggestions -- I favor Feingold myself. Corzine is unlikely, however, as he supported Clinton. He is in fact the Governor of NJ and not a Senator. He had been a Seantor but became Governor as an indirect result of the McGreevey sex scandal.

    March 8, 2008 2:39 AM
  • Wondering said:

    I'm wondering if the author of this clever post thinks Gen. Wesley Clark would ever defect from the Clinton camp and back Obama when if wins the nomination?  Seems like he adds a lot to the Obama ticket (his first name being "General" and all; let's Obama claim that he opposed the BAD war but isn't weak on security in the face of McCain's attacks) but he just seems to fuel the criticisms of H. Clinton.

    Thanks for the post.

    March 8, 2008 4:46 AM
  • LorenzoJennifer said:

    Thank You to Matthew Sawh for a well-researched, well-reasoned and well-presented listing of VP candidates.  Yet, historically, presidents have made little effective use of their VP during their terms.  The experience of VP Dick Cheney, a case of the tail wagging the dog, is not likely to be repeated anytime soon.  So, what will be the relationship between President Obama and his chosen Vice President, whomever it may be?  President Obama would likely continue to be a charismatic figure who'll likely use inspirational rhetoric to publicly set broad-based objectives and general guidelines.  His annual State of the Union addresses may well redefine the art!  "The devil is in the details" goes the saying and inspirational/charismatic types are simply not comfortable delving into details.  Say what they will about Bill Clinton, but he was one of the very few presidents who was comfortable enough with himself so as  to delegate responsibility.  VP Al Gore was heavily involved with "ReGo" (Reinventing Government), working on the information superhighway projects and perhaps being the first ever VP to emerge from post-inauguration obscurity when he publicly debated Ross Perot on NAFTA in 1993.  President Obama would likely never ever cave in to his Vice President as Bush has done with Cheney.  We find that candidate Obama relies heavily on diverse and experienced groups to advise him on public policy.  A long-ago Tote Board article so indicated their existence.  If past be prologue, then President Obama's Vice President will be way too busy to ever worry about gathering dust on a shelf until re-election time rolls around.  For comparative examples, does anyone seriously think that either Hillary Clinton or John McCain - if elected president -  would give up any power or recognition to their vice presidents?

    March 9, 2008 4:21 PM
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