Posts Tagged ‘Obama-Clinton’

Thoughts on Combined Clinton/Obama Tickets

March 12, 2008

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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Would Edwards Pursue the VP Spot with Clinton?

January 30, 2008

Some might argue that if Edwards wants to become Vice President so that he can ultimately become President in 8 years, then he would be better off working out a deal with Hillary Clinton.  After all, if he did endorse Clinton in exchange for a place on the ticket, then Clinton would almost certainly win the nomination.  In contrast, if he joins with Obama, Clinton might still win and then he would have alienated the Clintons.

However, I doubt very much that Edwards or any other high-profile Democrat will want to accept the VP spot on a Clinton ticket.  Why? Because everyone knows that Bill Clinton will be the “real” Vice President in a Clinton administration.  The official VP would have a severely diminished role even compared to the traditional pre-Cheney VP role.  Edwards is smart enough to know this and would probably rather follow the Al Gore model of focusing on the issues he cares most about outside Washington and the political system.  Of course, it is possible that he will decide to pursue the Al Gore model in any case and might not want to accept the VP spot on the Obama ticket even if it is offered to him and even if he decides to endorse Obama.

Obama Should Recruit Edwards Now

January 30, 2008

Now that John Edwards is dropping out of the Democratic race, I think it makes even more sense for Barack Obama to add him to his ticket and attract all the voters who had been supporting Edwards. If Edwards had stayed in the race, he would have won some delegates and might have eventually struck a deal to have them support Obama. But now, some of those delegates will go to Obama and some will go to Clinton. Overall, Obama will end up with fewer delegates than he would have if Edwards had stayed in the race and joined the Obama ticket at the convention in August.

But if Obama recruits Edwards as his VP running mate now, the joint Obama-Edwards ticket would almost certainly get all of the delegates that Edwards would have gotten between now and the convention. Edwards has wanted to be President for a long time. At this point, having failed to win the Democratic nomination twice, his best chance of eventually becoming President is to once again accept the VP spot on the ticket and then run for President again in 8 years when he’ll be able to claim more experience and be widely recognized as a leader of the Democratic party just as Al Gore was at the end of Bill Clinton’s second term.

How Obama Can Win the Democratic Nomination

January 30, 2008

Note: this was written before John Edwards dropped out of the Presidential race and before John McCain won the Republican nomination and is no longer relevant.  Obama would be better off selecting a VP who has extensive foreign policy or military experience to counter the advantage McCain has in those areas.  Bill Richardson would be a good choice since he was UN Ambassador and has done some diplomacy work apart from that post.  He would also help Obama do better among Latino voters.

There are 6 days left until Super Tuesday when 22 states are having Democratic primaries and caucuses and will select 1,688 “pledged delegates” who commit to vote for specific candidates in the first vote at the Democratic Convention in August. Currently, Hillary Clinton is ahead in the polls in most of the Super Tuesday states with Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois being an exception. So, one might think that things look dim for Senator Obama and that he will have a very hard time getting enough delegates to win the nomination in August even with the Kennedys campaigning for him.

However, it is important to keep in mind that all states award delegates in the Democratic primaries and caucuses based on a formula that measures the percentages of the vote that candidates get in each congressional district and statewide. This means that Obama and Edwards will both get delegates in most states even if Clinton wins most of them. While the formulas are complicated and vary from state to state, it is likely that Obama and Edwards will get delegates roughly in proportion to the percentage of the vote they get in each state. While Clinton leads in most of the Super Tuesday states, if one adds the polling numbers for Obama and Edwards, they are more competitive with her in many states. For instance, in California, the average of multiple polls for California on realclearpolitics.com shows Clinton having 44.2%, Obama having 32.2% and Edwards having 11.0%. Combining Obama’s and Edwards’ numbers gives them 43.2% which is only 1.0% less than Clinton.

Now, it is entirely possible that Clinton will not have the 2,025 delegates needed to lock in the nomination at the convention. While many people have talked about the possibility of a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket (with the latter being much less likely), another possibility would be for Obama and Edwards to combine their delegates and draw off some of Clinton’s delegates (after the first round of voting) to achieve the required majority. Since Obama will most likely have substantially more delegates than Edwards, one could expect Obama to lead the ticket with Edwards once again accepting the nomination for Vice President.  Given the facts that Obama and Edwards have both focused their campaigns on changing Washington, agree on most issues, and have not been attacking each other nearly as much as Obama and Clinton have done, this pairing is actually much more likely to work than a Clinton-Obama ticket.

I believe the Obama-Edwards team would probably get more delegates if they announced that they were joining forces before Super Tuesday. While some voters who like Edwards will continue to vote for him, many others probably feel that he cannot win the nomination at this point and might shift their vote to Clinton or Obama. If they announce that they will run together as a team before Super Tuesday, one could expect most Edwards supporters to vote for Obama.  Additionally,  if all Edwards supporters voted for Obama, the total number of delegates that the Obama-Edwards ticket received would probably be higher than if they continue to run separately.  This is due to the fact that candidates must exceed a 15% threshold in each state in order to get pledged delegates. If Edwards continues to run on his own, he could quite possibly fail to meet this threshold in many districts; but together, the Obama-Edwards ticket would probably easily exceed the threshold.

In conclusion, Obama could potentially win the Democratic nomination even if Clinton beats him in most of the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses by teaming with Edwards. However, their chance of getting enough delegates would be higher if they announced their joint ticket before Super Tuesday.