Veep Speculation Raises a Few Eyebrows
With the news that Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has joined Indiana Senator Evan Bayh and Delaware Senator Joe Biden on a very short list of potential Democratic vice presidential nominees, rampant media speculation has broken out that Barack Obama’s selection of a running mate is imminent. Bayh and Biden have long been mentioned as vice presidential material, but the news that Kaine is included in this select group of finalists helped raise the political buzz to a fever pitch over the past few days. In fact, Kaine himself seemed somewhat amused by all of the sudden media attention. Still, until I see reports that Obama has done some in-depth interviewing of these finalists, I will continue to believe that a final choice is more than just a few days away.
My own long-held view on selecting a running mate is that a presidential nominee should largely dispense with all of the conventional wisdom about ideological ticket-balancing and geographical calculation, and instead pick someone for whom he has a genuine affinity. The intense demands of the general election campaign require that a presidential nominee trust his running mate, enjoy campaigning with him or her around the clock for several months, and share a similar vision for where to take the country once in office. This kind of personal synergy will be immediately evident on the stump and make for a much more dynamic ticket. By all preliminary reports, Kaine appears to fit this bill.
Were Obama to look for a more conventional pick based on ideology, geography, and relevant policy experience, then, as I’ve noted previously, Evan Bayh would be a very solid pick for the Democrats. As for Joe Biden, while he would no doubt bring a long list of credentials and tremendous entertainment value to the Democrat ticket, what I am hearing from more than one reader is that the risk he would become a distraction is just too great, and I tend to agree with this assessment. So, if it turns out that Governor Kaine is indeed Obama’s preferred choice, then we should all get ready for lots of references to Kaine's famous left eyebrow, first introduced to Americans in his 2006 Democratic response (click Flash player icon on right to watch) to President Bush's State of the Union address.

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