The approaching Veep-stakes

If the top of the ticket is failing to generate any interest in the presidential election campaign then all the leaves is the Vice President slots

Is the joke over?
Dr. James Boys
On 23 May 2012 11:46

Biden, it was argued, helped to balance the ticket. Well, okay, he was white and Obama was black, he was old and Obama was young. Was the implication also meant to be that Biden was experienced and Obama was not? That was a reasonable position to take from the comparison, though hardly a flattering one for the would-be president. Biden was from Delaware and Obama from Illinois, so hardly a great North/South divide. Delaware is also a tiny state with only 3 Electoral College votes, so he didn’t exactly bring much to the party on that score.

Since the election Biden has hardly covered himself in glory, committing gaffe after gaffe.

If Obama is victorious in November, his power will begin to ebb away very quickly as thoughts turn to the 2016 race and who will replace him in the White House. Does anyone seriously expect that candidate to be Joe Biden? Of course not. Which brings me to my point: What purpose does it serve to retain Biden on the ticket? He no longer serves any purpose other than to distract attention from the president and to act the fool. He is, after all, such a buffoon that even bid Laden recognised the potential value of having him in the Oval Office.

If Biden no longer helps with the ‘lack of experience’ vote, or with the racial equation, his state brings virtually no Electoral College votes and he serves only as a hindrance, why retain him? There is simply no logical argument for his place on the Democratic ticket in 2012.

Obama needs a candidate who will be his Game Changer for 2012; a candidate to excite the base of the Democratic Party. He needs a candidate who is ready to assume the presidency should the unthinkable happen to the Commander in Chief, with a track record of winning campaigns and a demonstrable an ability to be a tough and loyal ally. If the candidate’s home state can bring in a large number of Electoral College votes – all the better. Finally, what Obama needs is a candidate that has a viable chance of winning the White House in 2016. There is no one in the Democratic Party that fits these criteria better than Hillary Clinton.

She has denied any interest in the role, but selecting Hillary will also aid Obama in his depiction of the Republican ‘War on Women’ in 2012 and present the Republicans with a dilemma.

The dilemma for Romney is how best to counter a decision to place Hillary on the ticket. It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that the Republicans had a week field of candidates this year. The heavy hitters all stayed home, clearly anticipating a clear run against a non-incumbent in 2016. They will be ill at ease with the thought of joining a ticket that, if successful, would keep them from the Oval Office for at least eight years, and which, if it fails, could end any chance of such a situation arising altogether.

Romney desperately needs a game changer of his own, but, if Obama selects Hillary, then Romney could be accused of playing gender politics if he names a woman as his VP candidate. Not that there is a logical Republican female candidate who brings the same strengths to the ticket as Hillary does for the Democrats.

Romney must do something altogether different. His one sure-fire bet is to choose Marco Rubio from Florida. Rubio would excite the Republican base, engage the Latino vote, put Florida in play (remember 2000?) and certainly make a Republican victory more of a possibility than it is at present.

The challenge for Romney is not placing the call; it will be if that call is rejected. The risks are huge on both sides. If Rubio refuses and Romney loses, does it get blamed on the petulant, self-serving, one term senator who placed himself ahead of nation and party? If Rubio accepts and Romney loses does Rubio get tagged as a loser, thus ruining his chances in 2016? If Romney wins, does Rubio lose all of his appeal when he eventually gets to run, which could be as late as 2020?

Not everyone agrees with this analysis, which is one thing that makes politics so fascinating. However, with the polls close, the stakes so high, the lead candidates so dull, the Veep-stakes could not be more important in 2012.

Dr. James D. Boys is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator and an Associate Professor of International Political Studies at Richmond, the American International University in London. Visit his and follow him on twitter @jamesdboys

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