Obama’s VP choice

by Michael O. Allen on May 9, 2008

My own candidate for Democratic Party vice-presidential nominee would be Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, D-KS. She is a wildly popular, twice-elected governor of a reliably Republican state, Kansas. She has a reputation as a consensus builder who works across the party lines to get the job done for voters. I had also thought that she may help Sen. Barack Obama assuage hurt feelings over defeating the strongest female candidate to ever run for president.

She was an early endorser of Obama who campaigned for him in several states. She is term-limited and cannot run for a third term.

Gerald Pomper, of the Board of Governors Professor of Political Science (Emeritus) at Rutgers University, thinks he has a better candidate. Writing for Larry Sabato’s Crystall Ball ’08, Pomper advanced U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, and argues persuasively that he would make a better choice on the ticket.

Webb is a former Republican who served as secretary of the Navy under Reagan, a decorated Vietnam veteran, and he is very vocal about his opposition to the current Iraq war, although he has a son serving there. Webb, in fact, matches McCain in war heroism and his younger and has better sense than McCain seems to have.

Webb also would bring specific political advantages to the Democratic ticket. His rural roots, vigorous language and championing of working class values would compensate for Obama’s evident weaknesses among these voters. Webb provides a populist platform on corporate regulation, trade, taxation and health care that would further extend the party’s appeal to its lower-income base. Born in Missouri, educated in Nebraska, California and the Naval Academy in Maryland, he encapsulates a national electoral appeal. Finally, to the limited extent that state residence matters, he would help to switch Virginia into the Democratic column for the first election since 1964.

Webb’s disadvantages include that he was a novelist who wrote some indecorous things about women. He can be blunt to the point of arrogance and once confronted George W. Bush in the White House about the war. Also, although he ran a highly contested U.S. senate race not too long ago, he might still need vetting.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Starr May 9, 2008 at 6:54 PM

What about Wes Clark? Clark emerged from the 2004 race a much better politician and has deep netroots support and could be very beneficial for the ticket especially in the south (He won Oklahoma in 2004). Recent reports even have the general reportedly encouraging Senator Clinton to drop out (?)….. I think Clark would be a better pick but I am also an Arkansan :)…..

michael o. allen May 9, 2008 at 9:20 PM

I was enthralled with Gen. Wes Clark when he ran and thought he would be a good president. He was not a great campaigner. Besides his being a staunch HRC supporter, I don’t have a strong opposition to him as VP candidate. He certainly solves the foreign policy and military experiences puzzle for Sen. Barack Obama. Here are what I would consider his deficits:

1). I don’t know if anyone identifies as a southerner anymore; he may have been in Europe too long.
2). He’s a bit of an egghead and would appeal to the same set of voters who supports Obama.
3). He does not appear to have the stomach for the dirty job, which is traditionally the VP candidate’s job. And when you have a presidential candidate who also does not appear to have the appetite for slicing and dicing, you leave yourself open for attacks without means of defense. The Republicans are good at this. Mitt Romney is not even the GOP VP nominee and he has no trouble attacking Obama scurrilously.

That said, I do like him and was dismayed when he signed on with Hillary. All is forgiven now. I do hope that Obama, even if he does not pick him as his vp, would listen to him.

Mark Starr May 9, 2008 at 10:52 PM

Well, we both know this…. If Webb is the VP he will have no problem going after McCain. Yes, I do like Webb and I think the brew ha ha that occurred with regard to his statements about women serving in the military can be easily debunked. He is pro-choice and has a very progressive voting record since coming to DC, also, I think the worst has been outed regarding any baggage he may have in looking at the heated race he was involved in. However, Clark can surprise as he has both looks and charisma and he is not one to shy away from a fight. I think the general being the good soldier he is would have no problem going after McCain. His support for Hillary was expected. He is an Arkansan and has had ties to the Clinton’s dating back to the 1980’s. Also, I think it is safe to say that the Clinton’s persuaded him to run in 04 ( I often wonder what their motive was in doing so) as his team was made up almost exclusively of former Clinton staffers)…..

michael o. allen May 10, 2008 at 4:18 AM

Another Webb liability is that he’s on his third marriage. His position on immigration could also be easily misconstrued. I, also, don’t know what kind of relationship he has with Obama.

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