A Winning Strategy

Dear Chops,
I have kissed babies and hugged grandfathers. I have lied glowingly about my love for ethanol. I have conducted push polls, opposed free-trade agreements with key allies, and pandered to the far *****. I have spent $50 per caucus-goer in Iowa. Yet I’m still mired in *th place in the polls. What do I need to do to really pull away from the pack?

Dear *****,

You could be honest with the voters, but look where that's gotten John McCain, Joe Biden, and Ron Paul. You could spend $100 per Iowa caucus-goer, but your rivals probably will too. Or you could pull an end-run around the entire primary process and create a new paradigm for American elections.

Like most candidates, you are tied to your home state and your experience as a *****. That benefits you in some regions and hurts you in others. Imagine if you could transcend yourself - and appear more serious about governing at the same time.

Specifically, you need to pick a vice president. A good Veep-select will add regional and ideological balance to your run, and give you double coverage in the Mad Rush of December 26th - February 5th. Having chosen a VP will show that you are electable and ready to govern. And the controversy from having done so earlier than anyone in American history will give you two or three days of blanket media coverage - most of it positive.

A well-balanced ticket is now far more valuable in primaries than in the general election. Vice Presidents have lost much of their cachet as "ticket balancers" in recent general elections, as polarity and national party machines overwhelm regional loyalty. It's possible that a selection from Ohio or Florida could swing a close election your way - but close elections are the exception, not the rule. Besides, the way you're going, you won't get the chance to run in the general election. But in the primaries, name-recognition is low and voters get to vote their hearts. Your VP selection will allow voters to swallow objections to your support for *****. It will also help them take your "change of heart" on ***** seriously. And if they're worried about your lack of ***** experience, a good VP has you covered.

Choosing a VP at this stage also signals electability and leadership. It's like an endorsement, but with real commitment. There's an old saw that in a ham-and-egg breakfast, the chicken was involved, but the pig was committed. An endorser is involved, but a VP is committed. Voters who respect the VP will take his or her commitment as a strong signal that you are electable. Picking a VP - provided the choice is not silly - also shows that you are thinking about January 2009 as well as January 2008. While your opponents are trying to distill their policy proposals into soundbites, you can decisively make one of the most important and digestible judgments of your presidency and submit it to the voters

Subverting an aspect of the nominating process will earn you plenty of criticism - and that is a reason in favor of doing so. Trenchant traditionalists will bemoan your decision or deride it as expediency. But you hold the trump card: you are giving more say to the voters, not less. The old system resembles the VP selection from 1792 - 1800, when voters picked the president but could end up with an unwanted VP. The new system - which everyone will adopt in 2012 after you win this nomination - promotes positive aspects of democracy, like compromise and balance, instead of the polarity of the old solo-primary system. Besides, the longer the controversy lasts, the longer you'll dominate the news. Voters who won't be listening until the calendar says "2008" will hear your name (and your Veep's) early and often, and they'll hear it from pundits, editorialists, and politically active friends.

Whether you take my advice or not, someone will, maybe not until 2012 or 2016, but eventually. That candidate may not win the general election, but if he picks a good VP at the right time, he'll win the nomination. And that's more than you're going to do without a revolutionary strategy.

Posted by Chops at November 28, 2007 12:53 PM
Comment #239502

Watchblog readers:

Besides evaluating this radical idea for election strategy, I’d be interested to read your suggestions for good candidate pairings.

Some great VP possibilities (Condi Rice, Mark Warner) have ruled themselves out - but don’t let that stop you from fantasizing about that Gravel-Gore ticket!

Posted by: Chops at November 28, 2007 1:03 PM
Comment #239504

Chops, that was a fun read. The problem with an early pick of VP, as I see it, is that the Veep choice many times is from the list of Presidential wanna-be’s who lost in the primaries and weren’t nominated by their party. To pick a Veep before the primaries would preclude choosing someone currently in the pack of wanna-be’s, so a conundrum exists. Only folks with huge egos run for President and huge egos don’t permit retiring from the race until the “fat lady” sings.

Posted by: Jim at November 28, 2007 1:44 PM
Comment #239505

Republicans: Paul - Huckabee
Democrats: Biden - Gore (Poor choice but none of the current bunch impress enough to consider them.)

What I’d like to see instead of the Presidential candidate picking the Veep is for the Veep to run on his/her own and the voters decide who they want for the job. I know this could lead to a President and Vice President from different parties. But that just might be a good thing.
We just might get a Veep that won’t parrot the President and speak their own mind. Or at least their parties mind.

Posted by: Ron Brown at November 28, 2007 2:11 PM
Comment #239508

Fantasy Right-Wing pairing:

President Arnold Swarchenegger and Vice President Rush Limbaugh.

Fantasy Left-Wing pairing:

President Al Franken and Vice President George Soros.

George H.W. Bush’s Fantasy pairing:

President Jeb Bush and Vice President Jenna Bush.

Bill Clinton’s Fantasy pairing:

President Bill Clinton and Vice President “The Swedish Bikini Team”.

Just a thought…

Posted by: Jim T at November 28, 2007 2:22 PM
Comment #239517

Chops I think Bill Richardson is already Hillary’s closet VP. But if they announce it he can’t be on the stage with her during the debates to help deflect the attacks from others. Re-watch the last debate…..

I’m sure the candidates will take a hard look at the Cheney model of VP versus the “next in line” strategy employed by Carter through Clinton. With no political aspirations himself Cheney was free to piss off anyone he pleased including Congress, all liberal/progressives, and at least half of the free world. Cheney turned a meaningless office into a highly political hammer without regard for his own political aspirations (he had none). That’s something Mondale, Bush, and Gore couldn’t.

Posted by: George in SC at November 28, 2007 3:05 PM
Comment #239552

I am sure this will be out done, but this is my best in the five minutes I have before my daughter’s basketball game. Go Wolves!

Staff at the Huffington Post commits suicide:

• President Rush Limbaugh
• Vice President Ann Coulter

Staff at Townhall.com commit jump off nearest cliff:

• President Keith Oberman
• Vice President Lou Dobbs

Staff at New York Times eat red meat and drink One Buck Chuck from Trader Joes:

• President Robert Novak
• Vice President Dr. Michael Savage

Staff at Washington Post jump in printing press:

• President Ebert
• Vice President Roper

WatchBlog posters have digits removed to prevent future blogging:

• Can’t answer that one … that is what this post is about right?

Posted by: Edge at November 28, 2007 9:18 PM
Comment #239563

Kossacks/koskids prefer: Markos & Markos


Posted by: EdB at November 28, 2007 10:45 PM
Comment #239640

How about Mitt Rohmny(Mass.) and Mitt Rohmny (Iowa)

Interesting take. I really wish we could have an Edwards/McCain ticket or vice versa.

Posted by: BillS at November 29, 2007 8:18 PM
Comment #239887

Edwards McCain will NEVER work. Very different postitions on Iraq.

A few years ago I would’ve gone for Romney/McCain, back before Romney had a convenient change of heart…

My (probably dumb, I haven’t paid attention to politics much lately) proposal: Richardson/Obama

Richardson has the experience, Obama has idealism.

Posted by: Silima at December 3, 2007 12:10 PM
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