Sunday, August 24, 2008

On Obama's Choice for Vice President

On Wednesday I predicted that Barack Obama would, in fact, choose Senator Joe Biden of Delaware as his running mate. He formally made that announcement very late Friday night. I have been suggesting a probable Obama-Biden ticket for quite some time. It simply makes sense. Biden brings decades of experience, a common man background (he is one of the poorest members of the Senate), substantial (if not accurate) foreign policy knowledge, and an understanding of the Congress that is possibly unsurpassed.

Since Thursday, speculation as to who would be the Democratic VP choice has been at a fever pitch. Starting on Friday, the front runners started falling like flies. There was talk that a lowly House Member from Texas (Chet Edwards) was going to get the nod, which made me sweat a little, but to me it was all part of a larger plan to keep Obama in the headlines. It worked. There have been very few stories that have been on anything, except the VP choice.

We now have a sense of what Biden brings to this race, but his down side is fairly significant too. He represents Delaware, which is a state with only three electoral votes and votes Democrat any way. The fact that he was born in Pennsylvania does not mean he will carry that important state, in my opinion. Obama lost that state in the primaries and could do so again in November. Biden also has a problem with saying more than an occasional gaffe. He “speaks his mind,” often to his own demise. He described Obama’s early electoral success as being due to the Illinois Senator being a “storybook” character: a first “clean,” “articulate”, and “handsome” black candidate. There is no surprise that an apology soon followed.

The single biggest advantage that Biden brings is his candor, though. He is extremely tough minded and sharp tongued. His ability to speak his mind will be refreshing compared to Senator Obama’s extreme caution. Recently, that reluctance to speak freely, has made Obama look afraid and is a man who has simply bit off more than he can chew in pursuing the Presidency. Obama is not the “rough and tumble” type (although that side was demonstrated in his early races for state office). A traditional role of Vice Presidential candidate is that of “junk yard dog.” The guy who will go on the attack so the Presidential candidate can maintain the appropriate image. Presidential. Joe Biden is just the man for that job, probably more so than any VP candidate since Spiro T. Agnew back in 1968.

I feel like the pressure is on for my next prediction – the GOP choice for VP. This will not be as easy. I have speculated on the leading possibilities and the ones whom I believe would be the best addition to the ticket, but I am not ready to call it yet. Stay tuned though. I plan on taking a stab at it before long.

I would have blown my horn earlier on this, but I spent my weekend in the hill country of Texas in the middle of no where. It is so nice to be back near technology.

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 Houston Business Show (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review.

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