Robert Novak writes in todays Chicago Sun-Times:
Anticipating that Sen. Hillary Clinton will clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, some supporters are beginning to argue against her choosing her principal rival — Sen. Barack Obama — for vice president.
They maintain Obama provides no general election help for Clinton. As an African-American from Illinois, he represents an ethnic group and a state already solidly in the Democratic column.
This school of thought advocates a Southerner as Clinton’s running mate. The last time Democrats won a national election without a Southerner on the ticket was 1944. Prominent Democrats from the South are in short supply today. The leading prospect: former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.
Captain Ed responds:
Duane Patterson argued this same point a couple of weeks ago on CQ Radio. Obama comes from a state that will certainly support Hillary; it’s her native state, although now she hails from New York. Democrats already have the African-American vote locked up, and will not likely win any more by placing him on the ticket. Democrats have convinced themselves that Katrina has strengthened their grip on that demographic, and they may be right.
On the other hand, there could be significant risk in leaving Obama off the ticket. For one thing, he’s proven himself a good organizer, if not a terribly prepared candidate. His donor base outstrips Clinton’s, and so does the energy level from his campaign. There is also the matter of expectations, especially with the African-American community. Black voters may expect that a second-place finish should give them a seat at the ultimate table. If the Democrats instead opt for a white Southerner to round out the ticket, they may decide — with some justification — that they will never get their due from the Democrats. They may opt for a third-party candidate, or even the Republicans, althought that depends on whom the GOP nominate.
I think another point to take into consideration is that Hillary has cleaned Obama’s clock the last several months on at least a couple of issues, both of them related to foreign policy (the jab about his tough talk on Pakistan comes to mind) and it would look like a flip flop (not to mention blatantly insincere) if she went from vocally criticizing his approach to foreign policy to all of a sudden turning around and saying he’d make a good fit as second in command to her.
All this assumes, of course, that la Clinton will get the nomination – outgoing Bush advisor Karl Rove is certainly someone who believes she will, and his recent criticism of Hillary has led her to quip that Rove is “obsessed” with her. It’s still early on in the race for the nomination, but if the polls are any indication, he could be right: she’s going to be the one to beat come primary time.
Via Brian at Liberty Pundit (formerly known as Iowa Voice).
Related: Speaking of Robert Novak, John Hawkins recently had a chance to interview him. You can read the Q&A here.