Choosing a Vice President
By Jerome Grossman
Most voters, indeed the overwhelming number, select their choice for president on the top of the ticket, only rarely on the nominee for vice president. The media pay attention to the choice of the V.P.nominee mainly in dull news cycles or just before the choice is made.
In the current election, the race is so close that the vice president might be selected if he / she can help the ticket carry a state or two. The four states with the largest numbers of electoral votes are California, New York, Texas, and Florida. California and New York are sure things for Obama, Texas is for McCain, but Florida could go either way and decide the election.
Approaching the election this way in a state-by-state countdown, McCain is likely to nominate Governor Charles Crist of Florida, a proven vote-getter. Obama is competitive, only one or two points behind in Florida, and may select Bob Graham, another popular Floridian, former Governor, former Senator, former presidential candidate, former chair of U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, who voted against authorizing the Iraq war in the crucial vote of October 2002.
Another approach is to select a vice president who has special qualifications in areas where the presidential nominee is weak. McCain admits he knows little about economics. Mitt Romney could help here, citing his managerial experience as Massachusetts Governor and his successful business career. They would run as a team, one handling foreign and military affairs, the other promising to pull the nation out of recession, covering all the bases, maybe a winning team.
Obama also has gaps in his experience, gaps that will certainly be exploited by the opposition. He is most likely to be attacked for his lack of military experience and expertise especially when the nation is fighting two wars.. General Wesley Clark, successful commander of NATO forces in the Bosnia war, or Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island could fill the bill with grace, knowledge and public approval. Reed is a graduate of West Point, served as a paratrooper, and is vice chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee where he holds the respect of Republicans and Democrats alike for his judgment and technical knowledge.
Within the next few weeks, Obama and McCain will make their decisions. The potential vice presidents will not be chosen primarily for their ability to be president, although that will be the cover story, and maybe some will have that ability. But the dominant factors in the decisions will be - can that person help to win the election.