Why Obama Needs to Pick Hillary Clinton as His V-P
Barack Obama is close to picking his vice-presidential running mate. For both political and substantive reasons, it ought to be Hillary Clinton.
First the political reasons.
Hillary Clinton’s 17 million votes show that she would bring enormous political power to the ticket, far more than any other potential running mate.
Barack Obama needs those 17 million votes, and the reluctance of many Clinton supporters to fall in line behind Obama isn’t just media hype. With Clinton on the ticket, Obama could expect that the great majority of those 17 million votes would be his in November.
She (and her husband) might even deliver Arkansas’ 6 electoral votes, and she would no doubt be a great help to Obama in crucial foreclosure devastated states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Florida.
And, as the New York Times points out today, Hillary Clinton is the favored choice for vice presidential candidate of the delegates to the Democratic Party convention: “a recent New York Times/CBS News poll of convention delegates found that 28 percent preferred Mrs. Clinton for vice president — by far the largest bloc supporting a candidate.”
It is clear that no other vice presidential candidate could unite the party behind Barack Obama as could Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton’s sometimes vicious campaign against Obama showed that she could ably play the vice-presidential candidate’s traditional campaign role: to be far nastier than the presidential candidate in attacking the other side. The Clintons have decades of experience in political hardball. Obama, who is often measured and soft-spoken in his criticism of John McCain, could use Hillary’s expertise in sharp and effective attack politics.
Lastly, in contrast to other possible vice presidential choices, choosing Hillary Clinton would keep the election focused where Obama needs it to be — on the economy.
Hillary Clinton is more closely identified than any other potential candidate with the Democratic Party’s solutions to the nation’s economic crisis. The economy should be the issue for the Democrats. A vice-presidential candidate who is associated with expertise in foreign policy, such as Sam Nunn or Joe Biden, will not help Obama focus the campaign on his party’s strengths, and will play into his party’s weakness.
Now the substantive reasons.
Hillary Clinton would help an Obama administration far more than any other potential vice-president. Not only is she smart and dedicated, she knows as much about getting through the political obstacle course in Washington as anyone in politics. She would bring both knowledge and credibility to his adminstration’s efforts regarding the economy, health care and education.
And just as she would bring Obama votes in the general election, she would be effective in bringing him votes in Congress. Together Obama and Clinton would unite the Democratic Party in governing as well as campaigning.
The recent release of memos from the Clinton campaign shows that Hillary Clinton more often than not refused to attack Obama in the ways that some of her advisors, and Mark Penn in particular, urged her to do. Given the tremendous pressure that Penn (and to some extent Bill Clinton) put on Hillary Clinton to go much more negative against Obama as he gathered votes and momentum in the primaries, the memos establish that she showed both courage and integrity in drawing the line where she did.
In the end, there are really only two questions:
More than the other possible running mates, can Hillary Clinton help elect Obama?
And if he is elected, could she help him be a more effective president?
The answer to both questions is:
Yes she can.