Kerry's Running Mate?
Jude Wanniski
July 5, 2004


Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Contenders

The news has it that Senator Kerry has definitely picked his running mate and will surprise us all with the name Tuesday or the next day. It’s clearly too late to influence his decision, but I thought I’d weigh in anyway, if only to see how my judgment stacks up against his. This doesn’t mean if he doesn’t pick one of my favorites that he's wrong and I’m right. The voters will make that decision in November, giving Kerry a plus or a minus depending upon whom he selects along with all the other pluses and minuses on other matters. I’m a long way from being the Democratic presidential nominee (no kidding) and he is practically there, which tells me he has things going around in his head that I have to respect, even if we find his VP choice laughable. When FDR picked Harry S Truman in 1944, it was a laugher at the time, but it turned out okay. My suggestions are the result of my own judgment, the things that go around in my head as I try to figure what would be best for the USA and the world. Maybe it won’t matter, if Kerry wins with a Veep who sits out the next four years cutting ribbons and attending funerals of foreign dignitaries.

The three names in most prominent circulation are: North Carolina Senator John Edwards, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.

Of the three, my pick would be Dick Gephardt, primarily because he has been around for ages and knows everyone and understands the mechanics of the republic. He would have no personal agenda and would be just fine as a ribbon cutter and funeral attendee. If President Kerry got hit by a truck and Gephardt advanced to the Oval Office, he would do a respectable job warming the bench until the next election. President Kerry would be comfortable with him, which counts for a lot.

Senator Edwards would be my last pick of these three, and it has been in my mind a plus for Kerry to hear that he is “not comfortable” with Edwards. If he does pick Edwards it will be holding his nose and hoping because the North Carolinian is from a state south of the Mason-Dixon line he will attract votes from below that line. I doubt it. Edwards does not strike me as being presidential in any way, even as a caretaker. If President Kerry gets hit by a truck, Edwards would be hapless, and the voters would take that into account at the ballot box.

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack? I’ve read up on him and have to say I’m moderately impressed that Kerry would consider him. He seems to be a man of substance. He would be no better or worse as a running mate than Dan Quayle was to George Bush in 1988. If he were on the ticket, he probably would not change a vote, plus or minus, but if he did, it would probably be in the plus column.

Who else is there?

New York Senator Hillary Clinton? If I were President I would be quite happy to have Hillary as my Vice President. To be sure, I am politically enamored of New York’s junior senator, having watched her like a hawk since she arrived in the Senate on her own. There are several ingredients I look for in a President of the Most Powerful Nation in the History of the World, and Senator Clinton seems to have most of them. If she were the nominee today, I would easily vote for her over President Bush. Alas, Senator Kerry probably does not feel as confident as I would that Ms. Clinton would not be seen as an agent of Bill. But hey, if he announced this week that she was his pick, that would be great. President Bush would have to go a long way to win my vote in November, especially with Dick Cheney on his ticket. My old friend Cheney has been an unmitigated disaster as Veep.

Hillary aside, the fellow who I would pick for veep if I were Kerry is Pennsylvania’s Governor, Ed Rendell. Kerry really needs an executive type as opposed to a legislative type and Rendell has been a terrific political executive. First as Mayor of Philadelphia, then as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and now as Governor of Pennsylvania. His big drawback, I think, is that he is Jewish, and the political operates around Kerry have persuaded him that Al Gore might have won in 2000 if Holy Joe Lieberman was not on the ticket. (It is an underground buzz that there are too many anti-Semites in the country to countenance a Jew in this election year.) I’m a Roman Catholic and think Lieberman is a bozo, but I would be happy as a clam if Ed Rendell were President. He is OPEN MINDED the way few politicians are. He actually thinks there is some value in supply-side economics. He is more open to the petitions of the Islamic world than most non-Jews I know. And he has been an exemplary “problem solver” in Harrisburg. It would be impossible to hide these qualities from the voters.

I’ve seen other names surface, the most prominent being Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware. In some ways, I almost prefer Biden as the presidential nominee, but because he is not, he is also much more valuable as ranking Democrat on Senate Foreign Relations. If things go well for Democrats this November, he might be chairman.

Who else is out there? Any number of possibilities for 2008, but this is my short list for 2004.