Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Why Hillary won't be the Veep

The final curtain is about to come down on Hillary Clinton's doomed bid for the White House, with South Dakota and Montana the somewhat unlikely venues to switch out the lights.

And it seems that Hillary may be angling for the number two spot on the ballot, saying she's "open" to the prospect of being Obama's vice-presidential running mate. On the face of it, that seems a good idea, uniting the two combatants and pooling their undoubted talents against John McCain.

Unfortunately for her, I don't think there's a great likelihood of that happening. For a start, timing matters in politics and in this case Hillary's is lousy. Had she made these noises a month ago, when Barack seemed destined to get the nomination but it wasn't yet totally certain, she might well have got the V-P slot. But with it coming now, with Hillary's defeat all but confirmed, her bargaining power is zilch.

Also, Hillary doesn't really bring anything to the table in electoral terms. As a Senator for New York and someone who grew up in Obama's home state of Illinois - both already strongly Democratic states - she wouldn't bring any key swing states with her. OK, having the Clinton name on the ballot paper might be enough to swing Arkansas back into the Democratic column, but that hardly counts as a key state.

Nor would she be a key factor in attracting votes from women, for the simple reason that women are already more inclined to vote Democrat. In every single presidential election since 1980, women have been more likely to support the Democratic candidate than men. And in an Obama v McCain contest, I don't see that women have any particular reason to switch to the Republicans this time. And the other key element of Hillary's Democratic coalition, white working class voters, are unlikely to go Republican in large numbers, except maybe if racial politics rears its ugly head.

There's also the problem that the sole job of the Vice-Presidential nominee is to make the Presidential candidate look good. Given that Hillary is still a formidable politician, Obama might well have a nagging fear that Hillary could outshine him on the campaign trail.

No, Hillary is a busted flush as far as as the vice-presidency is concerned. I suspect Obama is far more likely to go for someone like Senator Jim Webb from Virginia, who represents a key battleground state.

But there is a job that Hillary could do in an Obama administration. Throughout her doomed campaign, she's been boasting about her experience, particularly in relation to foreign policy. So, what about Hillary Rodham Clinton as the next US Secretary of State?

1 comment:

Tristan said...

Given she has so many rabid supporters and its the conventions decision I think she's still in with a chance.

It may also help get those who've fallen for the 'Obama wouldn't be running if his main opponent wasn't a woman' line to vote for him.

I'm not sure what would make the racist white working classes in places like the Appalachians vote for Obama, but her popularity may help.

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