Thoughts on Combined Clinton/Obama Tickets

After the Ohio and Texas primaries and caucuses, the Clinton campaign floated the idea of a “dream ticket” that would combine Clinton and Obama and appeal to both of their constituencies.  Naturally, she felt she should be at the top of the ticket.  I think the Obama campaign was right to scorn this idea.  After all, why should the front-runner contemplate an offer from the second-place candidate to be her VP? It’s ridiculous.  In any case, it’s certainly premature.  That being said, would it make sense to talk about a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket after the Democratic presidential candidate is nominated?

As I’ve previously written in this blog, Hillary Clinton would have a hard time attracting a top-tier VP candidate since her VP will have to play second fiddle to Bill Clinton.  If she does win the Democratic nomination this year, offering the VP slot to Obama would make a lot of sense from her point of view since she would need him to help her turn out African American voters in large numbers.  But would it be a good thing for him?  Serving as Clinton’s VP for 8 years would help him build up his credentials and experience, making him an even better candidate in 2016 when he would be 54, far from too old to run for President.  However, it is likely that Hillary and Bill would completely marginalize him even more than they might some other person they convince to take the VP job; the Clintons tend to hold grudges and would not forgive him for making them fight so hard to get back in the White House.  He might take the job for the good of the Democratic Party, but I suspect that his 8 years as Clinton’s VP would be miserable.  He would probably be better off staying in the Senate for 8 years.  The only way I could see Obama accepting the VP slot would be if Hillary Clinton agreed to only serve 1 term and endorse and support him for President in 2012.  4 years of misery would be preferable to 8.

What if Obama wins the nomination? Would it make sense for him to offer her the VP job and for her to accept it?  I don’t think it would.  While having her on his ticket might help him with white women, Latinos, and other Clinton supporters, he could probably find another VP who would also appeal to these constituencies.  For instance, Bill Richardson would help Obama attract Latino voters and would add more foreign policy experience to his ticket than Hillary would.  Furthermore, picking Clinton might undermine his change agenda since the Republicans would claim that the Obama-Clinton team would just be an extension of the Bill Clinton Presidency.  Even if Obama did offer her the VP job, I don’t think she would want or enjoy it.  She would be extremely frustrated with the number 2 job when she had expected and felt entitled to the top job.  Furthermore, after 8 more years, she would be 68; not too old to run, but not young either.  She apparently does like serving in the Senate and would probably be happier staying there.  Alternatively, she has the opportunity to run for Governor of New York now that Eliot Spitzer has resigned.

Whichever one of them wins the nomination would probably be better off selecting someone else as their VP running mate.  While it might help reunite the Democratic Party if the winner offers the job to the loser, the latter would be smart to politely reject the offer while committing their support to the winner and encouraging their supporters to do the same.

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3 Responses to “Thoughts on Combined Clinton/Obama Tickets”

  1. jposty Says:

    It won’t happen either way. The way Clinton ran her campaign from the get-go pretty much excludes her from an Obama ticket.

    Obama wont need her… all her support is coming from the hard left, the left who wont vote for anyone but a democrat and more importantly anyone who can’t in good conscious cast a vote for McWar. A good chunk of his support (a percentage significant enough for a Dem not to win) is from college americans and the recently graduated and the Obamicans who WILL not vote for Clinton.

    … Obama being a possible VP will never happen… he is too far ahead and mathematically impossible for him to not come out on top, barring some catastrophic campaign misstep.

    -James
    http://www.thepoliticus.org

  2. rberlind Says:

    I agree he is unlikely to lose the nomination unless the superdelegates screw him out of his well-earned victory.

    I’m don’t think all Clinton’s support comes from the hard left. The people in Ohio who voted for her were probably older Reagan Democrats. The same will probably be true in PA. These people might vote for McCain if he scares them enough which is the standard Republican tactic.

  3. knot Says:

    I disagree. I think that Obama will offer Hillary the VP slot as he will need her for the swing states. It may not be a marriage made in Heaven, but what political alliances are?

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