5.24.2008

VP talk picks up: Warner and Bloomberg are latest target of speculation

Vice-presidential rumors have been in the air for months, but they have been picking up this past week, as both candidates step up their vice-presidential committees, conduct interviews or just start assembling files on potential running mates.

Obama is at a much earlier stage of the process than McCain is, though it is certainly possible to draw a comprehensive list of names are are being considered, though the Hillary question still looms large. Today, Robert Novak's column mentioning the possibility of Mark Warner being selected launched a round of speculation about the chances of the former Virginia Governor who once seemed like a sure presidential candidate. Novak wrote that, "Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, a strong favorite to be elected to the Senate this year, has told associates that he is being considered as Barack Obama's vice presidential running mate."

Warner is now running for Virginia's open Senate seat, and he is the overwhelming favorite to win that race (this seat has been ranked the most vulnerable Senate seat for months now). Warner's involvement in the senatorial race was supposed to take him out of vice-presidential chatter. After all, when Warner accepted the candidacy, his name was already circulating as a possible VP pick so he was aware of that possibility, making his choice somewhat of a renunciation of the vice-presidency. After all, if Warner were to drop out of the Senate race right now, it would transform the Democrats' best pick-up opportunity into an at best uncertain endeavor.

This would suggest that the Obama campaign would not dare to consider Warner's candidacy, but if they decide that Warner is what they need on the ticket to carry Virginia, they probably will not have much scruples in undermining the DSCC. Nor will Warner automatically reject an offer that would put him on the path to the presidency in 2012 or 2016. And as if to confirm that Warner's name is truly in consideration, Politico 's article today on the "Virginia trio" (Kaine, Webb and Warner) argues that Warner would be the strongest of the Virginia candidates, and the one that would help Obama carry the state the most. So 13 electoral votes or a Senate seat?

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg continues to entertain the most confusion three months after announcing he would not attempt a presidential run. Since then, Bloomberg has been attempting to please all sides, introducing both Obama and McCain at events a few weeks from one another. Despite the fact that there has been more speculation as to the possibility that Obama might tap Bloomberg as his running mate, since the two would reinforce each other's postpartisan message and as there had been reports of talks between Bloomberg's entourage and Obama's, it is the McCain-Bloomberg ticket that currently has the most buzz. The two had breakfast on May 17th, and NYMag is quite certain that they talked about vice-presidential prospects. Marc Ambinder confirms the seriousness of these talks.

McCain selecting Bloomberg has quite obvious drawbacks and advantages. For one, it would seriously undercut Obama's core message of reform and post-partisanship if the politician with the most post-partisan positioning were to rally his rival; McCain would also strengthen his own independent image. Second, it would give McCain much more credibility on the economy, an issue on which McCain has difficulties. Third, Bloomberg has money, lots of it -- and the GOP needs as much as it can get this year. But it could also create problems to have someone as moderate as Bloomberg on the ticket when many conservatives already distrust the Arizona Senator. After all, electing someone to the vice-presidency gives them a heads-up for the next race to the White House. He would also not improve McCain's numbers in any particular state. Finally, Bloomberg is not the most charismatic politician -- to say the least -- and he would not certainly not be an effective attack dog, in what is usually a VP's most urgent role.

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