July 06, 2004

A Final(?) Veepstakes Post

Since the rumor (via Drudge UPDATE: ...whose info obviously came from an early copy of this NYT story) is that Kerry will announce his vice presidential pick in the morning, let me dump out all of my thoughts on the topic now:

I've always thought that Edwards would be the best choice. I second what an unnamed GOP strategist told Rich Lowry, especially this part: "whatever can be done to make the Democratic ticket seem less dour, in all senses, helps Kerry."

Edwards had a surprise meeting with Kerry last week, but I wouldn't read too much into that: Kerry has no doubt been meeting regularly with all the top contenders. An Edwards pick would be something of a surprise to me, in fact; I think there's a lot to the theory that Kerry won't pick Edwards out of vanity: even if being outshone would do him some good, he might not want to accept that.

Vilsack? Strikes me as a shortlist space-filler, a name kept afloat to throw the press off the scent. My view could be skewed, I suppose, since most of what I know about Vilsack comes from Iowa commentator David Hogberg, who dislikes Vilsack and tends to focus on his liabilities. But I've seen little to indicate that many people really think Vilsack is a likely choice.

As for Gephardt, John J. Miller made the case last month that he would be a good choice (scroll down the opening item, at the very bottom). I didn't find it entirely persuasive at the time, but it may be what Kerry is thinking. The rumor I noted earlier of positive evidence that Gephardt is in strikes me as no less solid than anything else that's floating around.

The others? Bob Graham's name has been popping up the past few days; ABC's The Note posted yesterday:

Gift to our competitors: the key to the whole Veepstakes puzzle might just be found by clicking on this link. LINK.
The link goes to information on the distance from Washington to Orlando, which might mean, of course, that a Floridian isn't in the running (that is, the nod to ABC's competitors could be sarcastic). I pronounced Graham damaged goods after his presidential run, noting that if Kerry wants a senator from Florida, he'd do just as well to go with Bill Nelson, who as far as I can tell is completely off the radar. Drudge was speculating about Evan Bayh earlier, presumably because he's reporting that the announcement will come in Pittsburg just before Kerry leaves for Bayh's home state of Indiana and that the "running mate's political director would be Linda Moore," who was Bayh's deputy chief of staff. But Drudge has taken down the picture of Bayh, which may mean he's gotten a tip that there's no there there. The other names who've been mentioned are all foreign policy guys: Sam Nunn, Joe Biden, William Cohen, etc. I don't think most of those are serious contenders, but the possibility that Kerry's pick will come from outside the publicly known shortlist (Edwards, Gephardt, and Vilsack) can't be easily discounted; it wouldn't be the first time that a presidential nominee surprised most of the tea-leaf-readers.

But I'll set the surprise candidate possibility aside, for the moment. I used to cover Illinois politics for Political State Report with Archpundit, and he was always very well informed and a perfect gentleman to boot, so I'll go ahead and endorse his scoop: I predict that it'll be Gephardt.

Posted by John Tabin at July 6, 2004 01:41 AM