An Obama-Clinton ticket would definitely be out of the ordinary. But 2008 is not an ordinary year. Here’s why the skeptics may be wrong. Five reasons why Barack Obama should offer Hillary Rodham Clinton the vice presidential nomination — and why she would take it.
1. It’s not his choice. Clinton’s support among her most loyal partisans, women’s groups especially, is as intense as Obama’s is among African-Americans and young people. The pressure he will be under to unite the party by selecting her may be insurmountable. Without Clinton, Obama would have to spend enormous amounts of time and political capital bringing blue-collar voters, Catholics, Jews and Hispanics on board. There would be no better signal to potentially wary constituencies than bringing their preferred candidate into the fold. Hillary and Bill Clinton could be tasked with bringing these folks home, allowing Obama to focus on growing his base and reaching out to independents and disaffected Republicans.
2. It’s a character test for him. Obama does not like Clinton. Who cares? Dwight Eisenhower did not like Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy did not like Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan did not like George H.W. Bush. Obama’s ability to rise above personal sentiment will be an early and decisive test of whether he really has the ability to transcend divisions and be the uniter he says he is.
The Deconstruction Zone - May 8th
3. The Sicilian hug. If the Clintons have an independent power base — and they do, even in defeat — it is better to have Hillary Clinton under close watch in the White House than in the Senate (and, in Bill Clinton’s case, in foreign capitals around the world) making mischief.
4. It’s an unbeatable merger of strengths. Obama is nothing but disciplined in pursuit of victory, and he and Hillary Clinton might be, as Bill Clinton said, an “almost unstoppable force” (even if he was envisioning a different order on the ticket). The combination would align nearly all of the top operatives in the Democratic Party around the same goal and would swamp Republicans with the most potent fundraising operation in history. The ticket would start off with a paid staff of approximately 1,500 people, and an organization from the national level down to precincts in every state in the country. While John McCain is recruiting county coordinators, precinct captains, etc., Obama-Clinton would on day one have an operation that would surpass what Bush-Cheney assembled in 2004.
5. She’d take the job — and be good at it. People may make fun of the vice presidency but almost no one turns it down. Clinton, knowing that a spot on the ticket offers the highest odds of becoming president some day, would not turn it down either. And, with her self-described “responsibility gene,” she’d work hard and do well. As a candidate in the fall, Obama would not have to worry about what most presidential nominees do — that the No. 2 will somehow flub a debate or stray off message. As president, he could have confidence that she would be a smart and effective adviser, even if the advice sometimes came through gritted teeth.
As in the companion piece to this story, our colleague David Paul Kuhn helped us survey reaction to the Obama-Clinton speculation. See below for quotes. And add your own thoughts in the comments.
Democratic consultant Tad Devine:
“I think Hillary would be the strongest choice for VP.”
Devine said his reasons are that an Obama-Clinton ticket would instantly heal the party, she complements him by offering longer experience, women are the biggest component of the Democratic coalition, they would raise an unbelievable amount of money for the general, she is ready for the campaign and would not make big mistakes and they will be 10-15 points ahead of McCain within a week.
Former Rep. Tony Colho (D-Calif.):
“What he may need now, he may need to select her as VP, and I never thought that before. ... The only way he can win in November is with Clinton’s base.”
A senior Democratic National Committee official:
“I’d love to see them on the same ticket. ... When I get a chance to talk to these various people at the very top, I will certainly be one of thousands of people saying it. He really should offer it to her, and she should take it. He just says, ‘Listen, I need somebody who is so smart and so tough and really knows the ropes and who knows how to turn on the lighthouse.’”