The power is out downtown, so I’m sitting in a dark office. There’s
probably an apt metaphor in there for making this guess. I think Barack Obama
will choose Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware
as his running mate.
With the conventions coming next week, the latest round of
polling suggests that the presidential election has become a toss up. I don’t
think a vice presidential choice gets anyone a big boost. Walter Mondale tried
that in 1984 with Gerry Ferraro and still carried only one state and the District of Columbia. A bad pick
can hurt, however. Remember Dan Quayle unexpectedly getting off a Mississippi River paddle-wheeler with George H.W. Bush in
1988 and quickly finding himself caught up in a controversy about his draft
status? It didn’t cost Bush the election but it sure didn’t help his campaign, his administration or his re-election bid.
That said, I think Obama goes with Biden to try to appeal to
some of the voters he had trouble with in the primaries. Biden is a Pennsylvania native. He’s
Roman Catholic and comes from a blue-collar background. He has a compelling
story – commuting daily by train between Washington and
Wilmington, Del. to care for his young children after his wife
an infant daughter were killed in a car accident shortly after he was elected
to the Senate in 1972.
Biden is recognized by both parties as an expert in foreign
policy, and he’s been through two presidential campaigns of his own.
On the down side, he was caught plagiarizing speeches from
British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock and Robert F. Kennedy during his 1988
campaign. And Biden does like to talk. And talk. And – well, you get the idea.
As for some of the other names out there, I think Hillary
Clinton brings too much baggage (starting with what would an Obama White House
do with Bill Clinton). Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas might seem like he was trying to avoid Clinton. Still following the Clinton
trail, too many of her supporters are angry with New Mexico Gov. Bill
Richardson for endorsing Obama during the primaries.
Biden also is relatively well known. Obama is still
introducing himself to a lot of voters, and a lesser known running mate, such
as Sebelius, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh or Virginia Gov. Tim
Kaine, wouldn’t make the ticket any more familiar.
My colleague Paul Gullixson will check in today with his
guess, and we’ll follow up soon on the Republican side.
If you’re wondering about my track record as a forecaster, I
had the Red Sox and Indians running away from the rest of the American League
this year, and both teams are fading faster than a Barry Zito fastball –
— Jim Sweeney