Veep Sheet: Kaine And Obama Meet Tonight

After a day of campaigning in Virginia, Barack Obama is overnighting in Richmond tonight as the guest of Gov. Tim Kaine, Politico has learned from Old Dominion sources.

So, is it a consolation prize for the young veep hopeful, or a warmup act for one of the biggest buddy acts in presidential history?

According to Newsweek's Howard Fineman, the prospects will know soon: They've been asked where they can be reached tomorrow afternoon. 

With the political press corps on hair-trigger alert, Bill Burton, the Obama campaign's puckish national press secretary, sent reporters an e-mail Wednesday morning with the subject line, "Vice Presidential ..."

When they opened it, it said, "Just kidding." Coulda been: "August fool!"

BREAKING: A Republican official tells The Associated Press that independent Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman will be speaking at the Republican National Convention.

A top Republican said: "This is a 'don't worry, it's not him' message to the right."

THE BUZZ: Could McCain really go with Lieberman? Could Obama really NOT go with Delaware Sen. Joe Biden?

For the Democrats, Biden raised more questions than answers yesterday when he told reporters: “You guys have better things to do. I’m not the guy.”

Is Biden really out of the running? Or is he playing coy? The Los Angeles Times says not to take his denials too seriously. And according to ABC, Biden walked back his comments later, saying: “I have not spoken to anyone. ... You guys know as well as I do.”


Still, if Biden knew he was going to get the nod, why undermine the rampant (and in many cases enthusiastic) speculation about his prospects?

The aforementioned Howard Fineman reports some of Biden’s competitors think he’s got the job.

Says one of them: “If I had to bet my life on it, I’d bet it is Joe.”

As questions arose about the Biden buzz, Matt Drudge turned his spotlight toward another option: Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who many commentators have taken less seriously of late.

“Instead of HRC?” Drudge asked under a smiling photograph of Sebelius.

 Simultaneously, Kansas’s Lawrence Journal-World writes up Sebelius’s prospects, pondering her unusual political success in the state L. Frank Baum and Thomas Frank made famous:

“While her positions would seem to be political suicide in conservative Kansas, she has enjoyed high approval ratings, winning her last election, in 2006, by a landslide …

… Sebelius has been a master at taking advantage of the schism in the Kansas Republican Party — the constant warfare between the so-called conservatives and so-called moderates. And she has worked hard to focus on issues that have widespread appeal to most Kansans, such as education and health care.”

At a time when some of Sebelius’s fellow governors are calling for more specifics from Obama on bread-and-butter issues, it’s no wonder her stock is ticking slightly upward.

The Times profiles Sebelius in a similar tone: “One Hand on Her Job, the Other Across the Aisle.”

The Kansas governor was mum on the identity of the VP when questioned by AP reporters yesterday.

“A week from tomorrow, we will all know,” she said.

Another gubernatorial veep contender, Virginia’s Tim Kaine, is headed for some (vice) presidential imagery today, visiting the Army base at Fort Monroe that’s slated for closure in 2011.

Not the worst photo op for a national candidate, though wouldn’t it be better if the base wasn’t planning to shut down?

Kaine’s fellow Virginian, Mark Warner, whose name is still tossed around on running mate lists, will focus on “common sense” in his keynote at the Democratic convention next week, according to NBC.

“Warner will likely tout his bipartisansip and bring a message that appeals both to the Democratic base as well as independents. It is what has made him immensely popular in a traditionally Republican state. And the postpartisan message worked for Obama four years ago.

“Don’t expect Warner to throw red meat on the Republicans in Denver, or for him to utilize soaring poetry the way Obama did.”

Warner will also appear with Obama at a campaign stop in Martinsville, Va., this morning.

Two long-shot VP prospects have finally joined Warner on the list of convention speakers: Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed and Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry. Both will speak Wednesday night, when the vice presidential nominee is slated to address the convention, and when the theme will be “Securing America’s Future.”

Politico’s commander in chief, John F. Harris, got some veep wisdom yesterday from an unlikely source: Ralph Nader.

Harris: “The smart pick, according to Nader, is Hillary Rodham Clinton. Nader phoned into Politico Tuesday to offer his prediction that a surprise nod to Clinton is actually what Obama has in store — never mind the talk of mistrust between the Clintons and Obama.

“‘He just has to swallow hard and do what JFK did’ in picking rival Lyndon Johnson in 1960, said the liberal activist and maverick presidential candidate.”

Does this mean Nader hasn’t been asked to submit vetting materials?

Giving Nader some fodder: Hillary Clinton is scheduled to campaign for Obama in Florida on Thursday, CBS reports.

“The New York senator will make public appearances in Palm Beach and Broward Counties” — friendly territory for the former first lady, but less so for the presumptive Democratic nominee.

If this isn’t a veep preview, it might at least foreshadow some serious surrogate work this fall.

PS: Whatever happened to Evan Bayh? Newsweek’s Andrew Romano writes the pick would still make sense, but “it’s undeniable that Bayh’s stock has plummeted in recent says,” citing Bloomberg’s report on Mrs. Bayh’s corporate activities and other “trust issues” as possible reasons.

McCain’s vice presidential choice may be a bit farther off than Obama’s, but it’s attracting no less speculation — thanks to the news, courtesy of Politico, that pro-abortion rights candidates Lieberman and Tom Ridge may be on the Republican candidate’s short list.

Politico: “Multiple GOP sources say that party officials in Washington and in the states have been contacted by the McCain campaign in the past two weeks and asked about the fallout from such a choice. One person familiar with the calls said the party was being instructed to prepare for different candidate prototypes — including one in the mold of Lieberman, who is an independent but still caucuses with the Democrats.”

Fox News has word from the RNC that Ridge is off the table, possibly leaving McCain’s friend from Connecticut as the leading pro-abortion rights VP hopeful.

The Times lists Romney, Pawlenty, and Lieberman as the top contenders.

Jonathan Martin has word that Lieberman’s former aides have been asked to gather information on their onetime boss in a way that “would be unusual if not in the context of being vetted.”

Elsewhere in Politico, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins slams the suggestion of a pro-abortion-rights running mate.

“The party might accept it, but the party will just implode,” says Perkins.

New York magazine’s John Heilemann thinks the whole thing is a big head-fake that will allow McCain to look independent of the Republican base.

National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru disagrees, arguing that McCain could end up looking weak for following his voting record and going with an anti-abortion candiate.

Lieberman himself is traveling to Georgia over the next two days, along with fellow McCain consigliere Lindsey Graham.

“The purpose of the trip, says Lieberman, is to discuss the Russian invasion with local leaders and assess its impact on NATO and future U.S.-Russian relations,” reports Politico’s Glenn Thrush.

Some prime Republican ticket material is taking another trip, of sorts: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty are headed to Denver next week to counterprogram the Democratic National Convention.

“The national Republican party is bringing in high-profile spokespeople ... each night of the DNC to counter the Democratic speeches and events. The party will operate from a war room a few blocks away from the Pepsi Center,” reports the Rocky Mountain News.  Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl will also be on hand.

This could keep Romney and Pawlenty in the public eye during an Obama-focused week — but could the two also look a little undignified? After all, no one likes a party crasher.

Romney received some good news from back home, as the state health care law he spearheaded led to a “jump in coverage” for Massachusetts residents and resulted in a 41 percent drop in state disbursements for emergency care, according to the AP.

That’s the kind of domestic policy talking point the McCain campaign could stand to have for the general election.

Two other McCain domestic policy mavens, former eBay chief Meg Whitman and Hewlett-Packard alumna Carly Fiorina, get some ink across the pond, as the Independent writes them up on a list of McCain’s economic advisers.

Fiorina, the Independent says, “is now the go-to person on the McCain campaign for all business issues.”

Not go-to enough, though, to rank alongside Whitman as one of McCain’s wisest counselors.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — if not a veep, then a possible keynoter — unveiled a big teacher-recruitment program Tuesday.

Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, a favorite among conservatives, lost his press secretary to the Erik Paulsen for Congress campaign in Minnesota. Doesn’t seem like the congressman’s staffing up for a run at the big time.
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