Read 'Em and Veep
Try as I might to avoid it, I’ve been thinking once again about vice presidential running mates. For the moment, I am not so much focused on which individuals would best fill the slot for each party, but more on how the selection process in general might play out for the Democrats. I have been quite open about why I think an Obama-Clinton ticket is not a great idea, but I also understand the tremendous disappointment that will befall a significant chunk of the Democratic primary electorate, should Hillary Clinton be completely excluded from the ticket. It is not clear what impact that kind of negativity would have on Barack Obama’s ability to build a winning electoral coalition this fall.
As a result, Obama will have a critical executive decision to make should he wrap up the nomination next week as expected. How he makes this decision will be as important as who he actually picks to be on the ticket with him. Obama needs to decide whether he will offer the spot to Clinton, before he proceeds with the standard vetting process typically undertaken when selecting a running mate. Subjecting Clinton to the vicissitudes of a broader vice presidential search would be a mistake. Not only would Clinton’s supporters view it as yet another slight to her leadership status in the party, but should she ultimately not be selected, the news cycle would be dominated by their negative reaction to her exclusion, rather than by positive coverage of Obama’s actual choice.
So, while I stand by my earlier post that Obama-Clinton would not necessarily be the optimal pairing for the Democratic ticket, Obama nonetheless needs to proceed with caution. As the presumptive nominee, he will have two separate decisions to make. Combining a decision about Clinton with the many others pertaining to a standard search would be a recipe for a very rocky start to his general election campaign. If it looks like the Obama campaign is making Clinton compete with others for consideration, the potential for hard feelings among the party faithful will be greatly increased. Again, I am not suggesting that Obama pick Clinton as his running mate, only that he should be aware that how he goes about making his selection will have real implications for his ability to unite the Democratic Party this fall.
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