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GOP Shouldn’t Fear Clinton-Obama “Dream Ticket”

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For some election prognosticators, the Democratic ticket is already a forgone conclusion. Senator Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination and pick Sen. Barack Obama to be her running mate. Their combined political "rock star" status will be enough to triumph over any Republican candidates.

This projected threat of a Clinton-Obama ticket already has some Republicans worried about their chances in 2008, even though the first primary is still six months away. At a recent campaign stop in Iowa, this concern emerged when presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani stated that he's the only one who can beat the Clinton-Obama "dream ticket."

While this ticket may be tempting for a party that still feels wronged over the 2000 presidential election, nominating Obama to be Clinton's running mate could actually help the GOP retain the White House.

Ideally, vice-presidential running mates should help offset perceived weaknesses of the presidential nominees. Despite the media love affair with the former first lady, she is far from a perfect presidential candidate. She has a short political record, is perceived as too liberal, has little appeal with voters in the red states and is viewed by many as power hungry and simply using her husband, Bill, as a stepping stone to fulfill her political ambitions.

Obama does little to erase these weaknesses. Consider the following:

  • Obama's legislative record is already left of the junior New York senator. When brought under the harsh lights of a presidential campaign, this record could further alienate moderate voters necessary for any national electoral success.
  • Obama is still a political neophyte and has made some rookie blunders on the campaign trail, which includes his recent statement that he'd invade nuclear-armed Pakistan.
  • He represents Illinois, a state that hasn't voted for the GOP since 1988 and is hardly likely to change its ways in 2008.
  • Even though he'd be the first African-American to be on a national ticket, Democrats can usually rely on 90 percent of the African-American vote in national elections.

Despite their combined weaknesses, a Clinton-Obama ticket would still be difficult to beat, due to the fawning attention such a coupling is bound to receive from the media. It would require Republicans to nominate a presidential candidate who won't be intimidated by their "superstar" personas.

Instead of fearing that ticket, the GOP should work on creating a campaign that highlights Clinton's and Obama's weaknesses and on nominating a strong candidate who won't be intimidated by anyone the Democrats may nominate.

Republicans might have reason to worry, however, if Clinton bucks the political hype and nominates someone like New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. To use a catchphrase from the 2000 election, Richardson would add some serious gravitas to a Clinton nominee. Pluses include:

  • Stellar political resume: current governor of New Mexico, a 14-year congressional career, past ambassador to the United Nations and past Energy Secretary under Bill Clinton.
  • Sizable influence in the American Southwest, which could help swing New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado to the Democratic side as well as other states with sizable Hispanic populations.
  • Allure for Hispanic voters—a  block that votes in sizable numbers for Republicans.
  • Moderate voting record, which includes lowering state income taxes in New Mexico—a very appealing attribute for voters who may be sitting on the fence come Election Day.

The fight for the presidency often goes to the person with the most guts. Clinton might find the presidency within her grasp if she can buck conventional wisdom and nominate someone who can aid her quest for the White House. Republicans could retain the White House if they nominate someone with the courage and ability to take on any Democratic "dream ticket."

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About Abel Keogh

  • Baronius

    That’s a reasonable analysis. You always want to be wary of a VP nominee with more charisma than you. I recall that Bush was urged to put McCain on the ticket – actually, it was more than urging. It was assumed that he would. Ford was supposed to pick Reagan; Bush 41 was expected to pick Kemp. Those would all have been bad choices.

    It takes about an hour for everyone to forget about the also-ran candidates and rally around the party’s ticket. Hillary and Obama would do well to not pick the other. Either one would look better in front of Richardson’s low-charisma background lighting.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I sure woukld have liked to have seen Jack Kemp in the White House, even as VP.

    Dave

  • steve

    Hill’s not gonna make the cut, sorry. Too much baggage, too much unelectability. Obama has a better shot, but I don’t expect him to be the candidate either. Edwards has already spent his political capital, and is well done already. Someone will emerge from much deeper in this field. Richardson might be it…it won’e be the front runners. Look back at the elections from 1960 until now and see how the front runners did, and who was nominiated.

  • http://nutsanddicks.blogspot.com Doug DeLong

    Whomever the Dems nominate will have an automatic advantage in the election because of the “Bush-fatigue” factor. Whomever the Republicans nominate will run as fast as he can away from Bush, but, fair or not, the fact that the nominee and Bush both have an (R) after their names will spell doom.

  • Jim

    Obama did not claim he would invade Pakistan. Please read the original transcript of his comments.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I’ve seen Democrats lose a lot of elections that logically ought to have been theirs to win, so I’m one Dem who’s a perennial worrywart. However, the recent debate performances of Sens. HRC and Obama have put my mind at ease a bit.

    Pundits on both sides seem to believe the election will turn on bromides like “Hillary’s not likable and her negatives are impossibly high” and “Obama’s a lightweight with little experience.” But as more Americans begin to pay attention to the candidates, they’ll notice how very smart and articulate both Clinton and Obama are – a dramatic change from our White House’s current occupant!

    The public’s expectations have been set so low for HRC that her negatives – based less on specifics about her than on some vague notion that ‘that’s how everybody feels’ – can only go down. And both she and Obama generate a convincing empathy that John Kerry, for one example, lacked. Rudolph Giuliani is not exactly a warm and fuzzy type of opponent, either.

    Many, many things will happen before the final stages of this race, but I’m more optimistic about this election than any since 1992.

  • Baronius

    Handy, I’m the same kind of worrier, but on the other side of the aisle. I think you always remember the bad losses on your own side. Also, you expect people to choose “right”, so you’re surprised when they don’t. That’s probably why I’ve been discounting Rove’s impact on recent boards – beating Gore and Kerry seems like no big deal to me.

    I think you’re overestimating Hillary’s empathy though.

  • Steven

    There will never be a Clinton-Obama ticket. These two really hate each other. I think Hillary would rather have George Bush and all of his incompentancy as a running mate over Barack Obama. If offered the Vice Presidency, Barack Obama would turn it down rather be under Hillary Clinton.

  • Dr Dreadful

    There will never be a Clinton-Obama ticket. These two really hate each other.

    Kennedy and Johnson hated each other too. Pragmatism won out.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I think the dems would be a lot better off nominating Obama. Look at their negative ratings. Independents and some Republicans will vote for Obama. Too many of them positively hate Hillary to vote for her. Unless a 3rd party candidate gets into the race or the Republicans nominate someone like Tancredo,Hillary gets a solid 46% nationwide and loses.

    Dave

  • Baronius

    Dr. D – Johnson and Kennedy had a reason to join forces. As you said, pragmatism won out. There’s nothing that Hillary or Obama brings to the ticket that the other one doesn’t. There’s no payoff. Besides, Kennedy wasn’t one to hold a grudge. Johnson was; Hillary is. If Hillary is at the top of the ticket, she’ll be just as warm and fuzzy as Johnson would have been.

    Nalle – Are you putting faith in polling data fifteen months before the election? It always happens that as a person wins primaries, they appear more presidential. Her campaign, the DNC, and the NYT will be pouring resources into shoring up her support. They got some Americans to tolerate Gore and Kerry, who are every bit as unlikable as Hillary.

    Personally, I think she’d be a horrible nominee for the Dems. And I’d love to see it happen, if it weren’t for the risk that she easily could get elected. As a Republican, Clinton-Obama probably is my dream ticket. Then again, Edwards is ridiculous too… and so are most of the GOP candidates. (Sigh.)