And on Friday July 18th, Cillizza posted his latest analysis of the VP sweepstakes, creating a short list of five top contenders for each of the two major candidates. For Barack Obama, Cillizza believes the stark choice is between change and experience. Barack Obama is widely perceived as being a bit "light in the loafers" because he embarked upon his campaign after only 143 days service in the U.S. Senate; consequently, he might prefer to grab a VP who carries more of a household name and a lengthy political portfolio, but at the same time does not have high negatives, to reassure skittish voters.
For John McCain, Cillizza believes the choice is between a "short pass" and a "Hail Mary". The "short pass" option is a candidate who McCain feels personally close to or would fit an obvious need for him. Such a choice would signal that McCain thinks he can win the race without changing the current dynamic. In contrast, the "Hail Mary" option is an unexpected candidate, which might suggest that McCain wants to shake up the race with an unorthodox choice that would carry great reward and great risk. It would also signal that McCain wants to EXPAND his constituency. For example, some observers claim that if McCain were to select Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, it would attract disgruntled female Hillary Clinton supporters who cannot reconcile themselves to Barack Obama, such as those who formed the PUMA group.
So Chris Cillizza has constructed his short list of VP candidates who he believes would best fit the bill. Here are the names in order of increasing preference; visit The Fix blog to read the narratives:
DEMOCRATS: Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Jack Reed, Tim Kaine, and Evan Bayh.
REPUBLICANS: Sarah Palin, John Thune, Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney.
Here is what Cillizza has to say about Palin:
Palin's name doesn't appear on many vice presidential lists but if you believe that McCain needs to make a totally out of the box choice, she fits the bill. Palin, elected in 2006 on a reform platform, may well be the most popular politician in the country, and her story -- former high school basketball star and beauty queen, mother of five including a newborn with Down's Syndrome -- is the sort of narrative American voters could fall in love with. Plus, picking Palin would send a message to disaffected Democratic-leaning women that McCain is paying more than lip service to the notion of changing the face of the Republican party.
Of course, Cillizza wrote this before Walt Monegan unveiled the smoking gun late in the afternoon on July 18th. This, of course, is the revelation that the Palin Administration exercised persistent and heavy pressure upon Monegan to fire Trooper Mike Wooten, against whom Governor Palin had a personal vendetta. This revelation is at variance from Palin's published statements. Former Alaska State Representative Andrew Halcro, who has been the leading blogger on this developing situation thanks to his inside contacts, posts his latest reaction HERE and believes the incipient "Palingate" scandal could get ugly. You can also view all my previous posts on this scandal HERE, beginning with the most recent.
It should be obvious to anyone that Sarah Palin can no longer be considered a contender for the "Veepstakes". Governor Palin has allowed this growing scandal to escalate out of control, and, in addition, does not have enough meaningful experience in her political portfolio to counter the problem. John McCain would be an idiot to consider her as his running mate now. Palin will likely survive this growing scandal, but her credibility will be seriously bruised, and she'll end up being a de facto "lame duck", just like Frank Murkowski was during his last two years. Sarah Palin is damaged goods.
As for Mitt Romney? It is quite realistic to consider him a major contender. An LA Times blogger reveals that McCain and Romney have warmed up to each other on the campaign trail recently. In addition, there is still Romney's fund-raising clout, second to none. Furthermore, opposition to Romney's Latter-day Saint affiliation continues to wane. A McCain-Romney ticket is a valid option.