As Barack Obama nears the finish line in the race for the Democratic nomination, speculation will soon be rampant about Obama's choice for a running mate. A lot of Democrats have opined that having Obama and Hillary running together would be a "dream ticket."
Although a Clinton/Obama ticket could be a tough combination for the GOP to beat, it now appears that come March 4 that will probably be a moot point. Would Clinton lower herself to accept a VP spot with Obama? Not likely, and it's even less likely that Obama would ask her to run with him, given all his talk about how she represents the "old way" of doing things.
Chuck Hagel is a Republican senator from Nebraska. He's a decorated Vietnam veteran and an articulate, thoughtful man who last year considered jumping into the race himself, and has been talked about as a possible running mate for Mike Bloomberg, should he decide to run. Although a social conservative, he's been a thorn in the side of the Bush/Cheney administration with his criticism of their Iraq policy, and is basically on the same page as the Democrats on the issue.
Obama is an attractive candidate for so many people because of his desire to end the partisan bickering that has resulted in gridlock in Washington on so many fronts. What better way to demonstrate that "we are not red states and blue states, but the United States of America" than to put a Republican on the ticket? Hagel would undoubtedly help in winning over more Republicans and Independents and should help to turn some red states a bright shade of blue. His prominent membership on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would also help to fortify Obama, who some perceive as lacking foreign policy expertise.
Would Hagel accept such an invitation? Appearing on CNN's Late Edition over the weekend, he gave this curious response when asked if he would support John McCain for president: "Well, I've not been involved in the primary and I am still not involved in any of that. At the appropriate time, then I'll have something to say about it." Earlier this month he was quoted as saying, "I like Barack Obama a lot. He's smart. He listens. He learns. He's a worthy candidate for president."
He also appeared to line up with Obama's views when, in the CNN interview, he talked about how we should approach dealing with rogue nations. "Great powers engage. Great powers are not afraid. Great powers trade," Hagel said. "If we're going to see any improvement in the Middle East, in Central Asia, the two wars that we're bogged down in right now, we're going to have to engage Iran."
Such a pairing, of course, would be historic, but it wouldn't be the first time it's been considered. Only four years ago, there was much speculation that John Kerry would choose John McCain as his running mate. For an Obama campaign that has already established itself as historic, such a bold move might prove that he really does represent change in a deeply significant way.