Wednesday, August 27, 2008

McCain Makes His Choice for VP

Days before the official announcement I predicted that Barack Obama would choose Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as his running mate. The article enjoyed a great deal of traction outside of my blog and now I am getting pressure to do it again when it comes to John McCain. This may not be as easy.

Picking Barack Obama's choice was relatively easy because his weaknesses are so obvious (and Biden was a great balance to them), he is very predictable and actually resistant to change (and the Delaware Senator is very "safe"), and Obama is perceived as an elitist by many because of his Pro-Europe rhetoric and statements viewed as anti-American by many, plus his $4.5 million in income last year alone (Biden, on the other hand, is considered one of the poorest members of the Senate).

So who will McCain choose? We hear about former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as Conservative favorites. But Romney does not have a history of conservatism to make anyone on the Right comfortable and Jindal has been very clear that he doesn't want the job. It is too bad, because Jindal is young, very conservative, and being of Indian descent, he could certainly bring some excitement to the ticket in terms of making history. Another commonly mentioned "safe choice" is Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Recently the chatter has been very strong in his direction, but few can cite what he can bring to the ticket.

Then there are the "bold" choices. These include Sen. Joseph Liberman, Secretary of State Condi Rice, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Many believe that although none of these choices are very conservative, they are the kind of candidates who could pull votes from the Democrats while the rank and file Republicans will overlook their lack of right wing credentials because of their concerns over Obama.

One of the latest ones being mentioned and is quickly rising is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX). Although considered a moderate, she is one of the more conservative females in either Houses of Congress. In fact, she voted the GOP position 89 percent of the time. She brings the female appeal that could attract many disenchanted Hillary Democrats, yet she doesn't scare off traditional Republicans. Another often mentioned female is Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She is solidly conservative and knows about energy. She would certainly defend the domestic drilling case being pushed by Republicans.

In my Obama/Biden piece I was a little bold. I said it was going to be Biden. Period. I am going to hedge my bets a little and name the top four. However, I will stick my neck out there and place them in the order of likelihood.

Number four on the list is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. I don't believe this a "good" choice by any measure. Yes he is attractive and articulate, but he can't bring in the voters and he became a conservative too late in life for the comfort of most. Furthermore, the Democrats will have a field day providing film footage of the bitter fighting Romney and McCain had in the primaries.

Number three is Condi Rice. She may very well be the best choice. It is true that she is largely unknown when it comes to domestic policy, but she is solid in many national security areas. Furthermore, she is an African-American woman. That covers many voters who are interested in history. The down side is that she and McCain are both considered foreign policy experts. Someone with domestic policy strength could help the ticket.

Number two on the list is Gov. Bobby Jindal. You never know, he might even accept it from a hurricane center in his state, showing "hands on" leadership. Jindal, more than any other candidate in my opinion, combines a bold move for independents and comfort for the conservative base that is crucial in getting Republicans elected.

Candidate number one and the one I believe McCain is going to choose is Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas. She has fifteen years of experience in the Senate, and a substantial voting record that people could judge (it is moderate-conservative), she is a woman (which will help attract disgruntled Hillary supporters), and she is from the South (crucial for the GOP to win elections).

In the end, this is what I am expecting and not hoping. Jindal would be my choice, if I could call it. But Hutchinson could very well be the right compliment, at this time, to get McCain elected.
Kevin Price's articles are found daily in national publications such as USA Today, Chicago Sun Times, and Reuters. Subscribe to his newsletter here.
Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review.

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