Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Friday, June 06, 2008
Five reasons why Hillary Clinton will not be v.p.

There are a lot of things to admire about Hillary Clinton: her tenacity, her killer debate prep, her advocacy for children's healthcare, and many of her pantsuits. But Hillary Clinton is not going to be Barack Obama's vice presidential choice, no matter how badly her supporters may want her to be. Why? Let me count the ways...

1. The primary

Hillary Clinton made such a vehement case against Barack Obama's qualifications to be president, she essentially exempted herself from qualification from the prime directive of the vice presidential candidate: believing that the person you're running with is capable of running the country. The ads featuring the newly minted v.p. attacking her would-be boss would be too juicy to resist for the GOP. Yes, we all know that GHWB called Ronald Reagan's economic policies "voodoo economics" and still wound up on the ticket, but the truth is, Reagan was headed to a landslide, and nobody cared what George Bush Sr. had to say. Barack has a potentially much tighter race on his hands.

2. The oxygen

The Clintons have a way of sucking it up, big time, and as a very senior Republican operative here in South Florida told me today, the best chance John McCain has to win the White House is for Barack Obama to choose Hillary as his running mate. With Hillary on the ticket (and her husband in the proverbial background,) the fall campaign would be A-B-C: all about the Clintons -- Bill's finances, Bill's possible dalliances, Bill lurking around the West Wing, Hillary's 2016 ambitions, and the Clintons' possible machinations behind the president's back. We'd be arguing about them all general election season, and Barack would be left scratching his head, wondering where his narrative went.

3. The weakness

If Barack Obama chooses Hillary, he would have a hell of a time convincing most people, including the press sharks, that he didn't do it under duress, or because he had to, or because he was otherwise certain to lose the "hard working white Pennsylvania vote." By picking her, he looks weak, and she looks like Dirty Harry. Not a good look for a would-be commander in chief.

4. The theme-breaker

In sharp contrast to Barack Obama's theme of breaking with the politics of the past, and forging a new, youthful, energetic American narrative, Hillary Clinton and her husband are a two-person 1990s time capsule. Their entire purpose is to bring back the good old days between 1992 and 1999. By attaching their narrative to his, Barack Obama would forfeit his future-focused campaign for one that inevitably looks backward -- a restoration rather than a refutation of the past. John McCain's people would love that, because then, both campaigns would be fought on a backward-looking narrative, and McCain's meme of choice is the Reagan era. In a battle of the 1980s versus the 1990s, which do you think would win? Maybe we should ask Al Gore.

5. The bottom line

Even if you believe that Hillary could deliver Arkansas, which I doubt, the other states she supposedly locks down for Barack are ones that he damned well better be able to lock down on his own: Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio... and I see no evidence that she hand-delivers states like West Virginia and Indiana, where recalcitrant white voters recoil from anything but a Republican who promises to further impoverish them. With or without Hillary, Obama probably can't win those states. Florida is the only state where Hillary makes a strong case that she helps make him more competitive against John McCain, and the costs of doing business with her out-weigh the potential benefit of having her deliver the sunshine state. At the end of the day, if Hillary is a team player, she will help deliver Florida anyway, without being on the ticket. Besides, the key to winning Florida will be maximizing the black vote in the two most populous counties in the state: Miami-Dade and Broward. That's how Bill Clinton pulled it off (along with attracting a larger than normal share of Cuban-Americans, which Barack is doing on his own with his policy of allowing more family visitation to Cuba.) Clearly, after the kind of primary the Clintons ran, they can't do a damned thing to help Barack with black turnout, in or out of Florida.

With apologies to Hillary fans, what Barack Obama needs is a white guy with a drawl of some kind, preferably with military or executive governing experience, or extreme popularity in a key swing state. He can't pick Jim Webb because of his past, harsh words for women, but someone Webb-like would work for him. I still like Chuck Hagel the best, because he reinforces Barack's message about reaching across the aisle. But there's also Wes Clark (even though he's much, much shorter than Barack), or Montana's Schweitzer, or Ohio's Strickland or even Joe Biden. If he goes the woman route, he could roll with Kansas' Kathleen Sebelius, or skip the woman as ticket-mate and choose someone with a really popular wife (John Edwards comes to mind, though he has apparently taken himself out of the running...)

But Hillary Clinton it will not, and should not, be.


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posted by JReid @ 2:38 PM  
Sunday, May 11, 2008
All about the Benjamins?
Is Hillary Clinton staying in the race in part so she can raise enough dough to retire her $20 million campaign debt ($11 mil of which is owed to herself)? |

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posted by JReid @ 10:08 PM  
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
How John Edwards blew his chance at destiny
Back in January, when he dropped out of the presidential race after failing to win or place in any of the first four contests, John Edwards had a great deal of political capital to spend. He could have thrown his weight behind either of the two front-runners at any time; before "Tsunami Tuesday," before "secondarily Super Tuesday," February 19th, before the big Texas, Ohio or Pennsylvania primaries ... any of those times would have given Edwards major ink. But then, of course, the ink would have run dry, his time in the spotlight would have faded, and he'd be "John Edwards Who?" before you know it.

By holding out until later in the game, Edwards preserved his mystique, and his viability as a possible running mate for the eventual winner.

Not anymore. John Edwards' chance to be a player in the presidential race of 2008 is draining out little by little, as North Carolina voters go to the polls today. You can almost hear the sound of destiny riding off into the sunset.

See, had Edwards, who was born in South Carolina but represented North Carolina in the Senate for one term, come out and endorsed either Barack or Hillary before this week, he would have provided valuable atmospherics to Hillary as a winner, or Barack as a guy white guys with a drawl can hang with, which would have been helpful in Indiana, too. Edwards still has a national constituency, particularly among left wing Democrats, and had he endorsed, he might at least have made Barack's vice presidential short list, or the short list for "poverty czar" in a HRC administration. Not that he would have ultimately made the cut, but making the list would have stretched his 15 minutes a few minutes more.

Instead, Edwards is just an observer of the NC and Indiana primaries, like everybody else.

Perhaps he's holding out to try to be a player at the convention. But with just 19 delegates (which, who knows, could be decisive at this point I guess) and the fact that he failed to carry either of his home states in 2004 as John Kerry's running mate, and the fact that in reality, his political power in North Carolina is about bupkis, about the only real card Edwards and his wife Elizabeth had to play was the endorsement card. Even if they had split their endorsement -- John for Barack, Elizabeth for Hillary -- they would have preserved their news value going into the June cycle. And even with his liabilities (short time in the Senate, rich lawyer with puffy hair persona,) Edwards was a decent choice, at least for the short list, particularly since he has had the experience running as wing man in a national campaign (I used to call Barack-Edwards "the Miami Vice ticket," only with Crockett and Tubbs reversed.)

But now, all that's left are Edwards' faults, and his failure to play his strongest hand when it really counted. And sorry, guys, the People Magazine thing ain't gonna keep you interesting.

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posted by JReid @ 7:52 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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