Monday, August 18, 2008

A Carnival of Anniversaries

This is going to be the political year of anniversaries.

Hillary Clinton is going to speak at the Democratic convention 88 years to the day women were given the right to vote.

Barack Obama will give his nomination acceptance speech 45 years to the day Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I have a Dream" speech.

And John McCain will name his vice-presidential candidate on his 72nd birthday on August 29. (Yes, while Clinton and Barack will be commemorating historic events, McCain will be highlighting his age.)

Everything is strategic these days. One week before the Democratic Convention in Denver, the Obama campaign is poised to announce their vice-presidential pick, and this will happen no later than this Saturday. Whereas sometimes campaigns have waited till the convention to unveil the vice-presidential candidate, the Obama campaign doesn't plan on waiting this year. There is no fear of an anti-climatic let down at the convention because superstars Hillary and Bill Clinton, and Al Gore have signed up to rally the crowd (with John Edwards now conspicuously left out, of course). The steady crescendo of celebrities will culminate with Obama's speech at the 75,000 seater INVESCO field. Team Obama knows just how to psyche the media up.

The McCain campaign isn't planning on sitting around either. They know that they will have to break the momentum of the Obama campaign coming out of the Democratic convention, so McCain plans to name his vice-presidential nominee on August 29, the day after Obama officially accepts his nomination

So what about the actual veepstakes? It is now unlikely that Hillary Clinton will be Obama's pick. She's already been assigned her prime time speaking slot on the second night of the convention on August 26, paving the way for the VP nominee to give his/her speech on the third night of the convention (as has traditionally been the case). Clinton's supporters would not have been agitating to have her name formally listed for the nomination roll-call if they sensed that she was going to be Obama's running mate. That leaves Joe Biden (more likely now that McCain has been pounding Obama on Iraq and Georgia and polls are closing) and Evan Bayh as the principal contenders for the job.

On the Republican side, it looks like Tom Ridge was seriously considered, at least until the trial ballon burst. No one has observed that the reason why John McCain was so on (the conservative) message in the Faith Forum last weekend is that he cannot afford to test his base's patience if there is even the slightest chance that he will do so by picking the pro-choice Tom Ridge or any other less than perfectly conservative candidate. That is why McCain was so ruthlessly on point on judges, marriage, and abortion at the forum hosted by the evangelical pastor, Rick Warren. Charlie Crist is definitely out because there are too many rumors about him being in the gay closet and McCain is unlikely to pick a potentially ticking timebomb. Mitt Romney continues to head the list of most possible choices (and by the way his pro-life turn was fairly recent as well) together with Tim Pawlenty.

So - anniversaries, veepstakes, and intrigue. Let the conventions begin!

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