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July 18, 2008



Did it ever occur to anybody that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has her own voice now and her own political power base (18,000,000 voters), and that her views about her political future may be just hers, as opposed to her just being an appendix of her husband, who happens to be a former president? People didn't vote for Bill Clinton, and Hillary better fight for her own turf. Otherwise, her victories during the primaries will become subsumed and obscured by the "conflict" and "grudges" between Bill and Obama.

Philip Meyer

Will Obama have any choice but Hillary?

Induced panic by Hillary’s supporters and Barack’s enemies

Several people thought to be potential Democratic Vice-Presidential candidates have dropped off the list and there is an increasing tendency in the press to suggest they will all drop off and Barack will be forced to surrender to Hillary. A post in the generally conservative RealClearPolitics cites the withdrawals of Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed and Virginians Senator Jim Webb and Senate candidate Mark Warner to suggest Barack may have no choice but to pick Hillary. The post concludes by saying “[w]ith Obama's diminishing short list, let's make a prediction: Despite the denials all around, Hillary Clinton as VP is an idea that I think has weathered the tumultuous month following her defeat. Polls show Democratic voters still like the idea and Clinton's electoral strengths certainly haven't lessened any…an Obama/Clinton ticket is very much a possibility.”

This mostly nonsense. First, of the four contenders who dropped out, only one was ever a serious VP possibility. Ted Strickland and Jack Reed looked good on paper, but as Michael Barone suggested, Strickland’s resume is very thin and he apparently judged himself to be unqualified. Reed’s military background made him attractive to a few (including yours truly) but he was not being formally vetted by the Obama campaign, rather he was a temporary media celebrity after it was announced that he was going to accompany Obama on an upcoming trip to Iraq. The reality is the low key Reed doesn’t desire the job and it was never seriously in offing. Mark Warner is already a candidate for the Senate in Virginia. He is the prohibitive favorite to win the Senate race at the moment, a race that might be much more in doubt if he suddenly wasn’t the Democratic candidate. It is doubtful the Senate Democrats want to give up what looks like a sure pickup when Obama has plenty of other choices for VP. The one who was apparently going to be vetted but dropped out was Webb. Most of the speculation suggested Webb would not have wanted his many non-politically correct statements of the past open to re-examination. Webb, who changed parties to Democrat only a few years ago, at one time suggested women had no business in the military and made statements that some took as sympathy for the Confederate cause in the Civil War.

Even these eliminations still leave Biden, Edwards, Richardson, Bayh and a host of others. Of course, Hillary is on the list but only because some of her supporters and Obama’s enemies feel she is owed it or he is stuck with her, not because she is a good choice.

About those polls

Hillary’s supporters and Obama’s enemies continually read the polls incorrectly. Many typically use the same logic as the RealClearPolitics post, basically “most Democrats want Obama to select Hillary, therefore he should” as if that observation matters. What really matters is whether selecting Hillary would help the ticket and here the evidence runs against a selection of Hillary as VP.

The latest Quinnipiac poll finds Democrats favor Hillary’s selection by a margin of 56 to 33 percent. Democrats also plan to vote for Obama over McCain by a margin of 84 to 8 percent, in short, whatever Democrats may feel about Hillary as VP, they are voting for Obama anyway. Among independent voters, who could tilt the election, Obama and McCain are running evenly and this same group opposes Hillary as VP by a margin of 50 to 35 percent and all voters oppose the selection of Hillary by 49 to 36 percent. More importantly, 28 percent of independents and 24 percent of all voters say the selection of Hillary would make them less likely to support Obama while only 18 percent of independents and 19 percent of all voters said they would be more likely to support Obama. In other words, Hillary would be a drag on the ticket.

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