Saturday, March 06, 2004
Time to choose a running mate
By The Associated Press
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Her memoirs have sold millions and national polls show the New York senator and former first lady remains one of the most popular Democratic figures. But Clinton also has high negative ratings, in part because of the aggressive role she played promoting former President Clinton (news - web sites)'s far-reaching health care agenda and cutting down his critics. Kerry shouldn't need help in winning Democratic-leaning New York.
Retired four-star general and former NATO (news - web sites) commander makes him a credible wartime candidate, the same qualities already provided by Kerry — a decorated Vietnam veteran with experience in international affairs. But Clark is not a smooth campaigner and he stumbled several times while trying to explain his views on Iraq (news - web sites) and abortion. Raised in Arkansas, he is a Southerner who could be popular with moderates, conservatives and those who value a Washington outsider.
The North Carolina senator and former trial lawyer raised his prospects as a running mate with a strong performance as runner-up to Kerry. His Southern roots and populist message provide balance to Kerry's Northeastern background and patrician upbringing, and exit polls showed he appealed strongly to Republicans and independents. But Kerry may want someone outside the Senate to gain maximum national appeal and there are questions about how well the two get along.
One of California's two female senators and a former mayor of San Francisco, Feinstein entered the Senate in 1992 to finish the two years remaining of Gov. Pete Wilson's term. Despite a new Republican governor in Arnold Schwarzenegger (news - web sites), the state will likely again swing heavily Democratic, making a California politician on the ticket little extra comfort for Kerry.
The longtime Missouri congressman would bring a lengthy political resume and regional balance to Kerry's Northeastern background. Gephardt's working class roots and devotion to organized labor play well in key states such as Ohio and Michigan, but Kerry may be looking for a running mate who isn't a creature of the Capitol; Gephardt has served in the House since 1977. Gephardt's two failed presidential bids also raise questions about how much he could broaden the appeal of a Democratic ticket.
Twice elected governor, the three-term Florida senator never lost a statewide contest in more than 35 years. Graham, who has announced he's retiring from the Senate, could help Kerry win one of the campaign's biggest prizes. Kerry has said Graham would be on anyone's list of potential running mates, but the senator, with his exhaustive notebooks, may not be a good fit.
As a Southerner and a woman, the second-term senator from Louisiana appeals to two obvious constituencies for Democrats. Landrieu showed some mettle in 2002 by hanging on to win a close re-election campaign in an increasingly conservative state against a Republican who was heavily touted by President Bush (news - web sites). A moderate on some issues, Landrieu could provide regional balance to Kerry's image as a Northeastern liberal.
Like Landrieu, the first-term Arkansas senator could help Kerry win votes from women and Southerners. She won a seat in the U.S. House in 1992 but left after four years to raise her twin sons. She returned to Congress in 1998 as a senator, where she emerged as a voice for farmers and rural families, but has little name recognition.
The first-term governor of Arizona could attract female voters and provide geographic balance as a Westerner, particularly from a Republican-leaning state. As a former attorney general and federal prosecutor, she also provides credentials as a crime-fighter. But Napolitano, 46, has maintained a low profile and hails from a state with few electoral votes.
A centrist senator from Florida serving his first term, Nelson might help deflect charges that Kerry is too liberal, but he is unknown outside of the state. Nelson — in politics since 1972 and the winner of 11 elections for three offices — could help secure Florida's electoral votes.
The chairman and CEO of mortgage lender Fannie Mae, Raines served two years in the Clinton administration as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Raines, a Rhodes Scholar and former economic adviser in the Carter administration, was mentioned as a possible running mate to Al Gore (news - web sites) in 2000. Having Raines, who is black, on the ticket could help bring in minority votes for Kerry, but Raines is relatively unknown outside Washington.
The first-term Pennsylvania governor and former Philadelphia mayor hails from a battleground state that Al Gore won by 5 percentage points in 2000. A former chairman of the Democratic Party, Rendell is credited with steering Philadelphia from the brink of bankruptcy in the 1990s. He now works with a GOP-dominated legislature and takes positions appealing to social liberals and business advocates. He would be only the second Jewish candidate on a Democratic ticket after Joe Lieberman (news - web sites) in 2000.
The first-term governor of New Mexico would be the first Hispanic on a Democratic ticket, appealing to the nation's largest minority group and voters in the Southwest. Richardson served as Energy secretary in the Clinton White House, but his tenure was tainted by the botched prosecution of scientist Wen Ho Lee (news - web sites), who was charged with mishandling classified information and imprisoned for nine months. Lee pleaded guilty to one felony count of mishandling information and is now suing Richardson for defamation of character for allegedly leaking Lee's name to the media.
A former Treasury secretary under President Clinton, Rubin was viewed by many business leaders as the linchpin behind economic policies that fostered the nation's economic boom. He spent most of his life as a Wall Street trader at Goldman Sachs before joining the Clinton team. He's now a top executive at financial giant Citigroup.
The second-term Iowa governor has attained prominence as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association and was credited with helping Al Gore narrowly win the state in 2000. He did not formally back any of the Democratic candidates during the Iowa caucuses, but his wife Christie endorsed Kerry. Vilsack has dismissed questions about his interest in the vice presidency, but last month he delivered a scathing speech denouncing President Bush's economic policies.
The first-term Virginia governor may be a Southern transplant (he grew up in Connecticut) but his dogged determination traveling throughout the rural and mountainous areas of Virginia helped him win back former Democratic strongholds that had turned Republican. But Virginia is a Republican-leaning state and Warner's personal appeal may not translate into votes for Kerry in the South.
To me one is standing out, from the rest of the candidates for the running mate position. And I'm going to spare you the giant speech and get to who I think Kerry needs to choose. Mary Landrieu. I know that she can beat the bush machine. She did it in her own state to win her Senate seat back. After Bush swept the 2002 election she won her seat back in a run off election, after extreme amounts of campaigning by Bush. And if Kerry Keeps the Gore states and she can pull off her home state (Which she has proven she can do) we are looking at an electoral tie... which means we only need one more state. But I think she has what it takes on a larger scale. Not only will she win LA but she will win everywhere. I can just see Oprah watching house-wifes rushing to the polls with their mini-vans and all, right now. And this is no Mondale. Ferraro was not personable and was not good looking. Those are key qualities of Mary Landrieu. Because it's really all about the looks...