Friday, February 1, 2008

Running mate or Runner up?

The question came up in the Democratic debate last night asking Obama and Hillary if they would consider the other as a running mate. The both said it was too early to be talking about running mate. But that just got me to thinking about how running mates were chosen in the past. I can only talk about recent history, since we didn't learn about national conventions when I took history in school.

There were a lot of VP's chosen to "balance the ticket," as in the case of JFK and LBJ. Kennedy wanted a running mate from the South since the Dixiecrats weren't too happy about a Catholic from Massachusetts. Johnson turned out to be a powerful VP, who rose to the occasion after Kennedy was assassinated

Who knows what Nixon was thinking when he chose "Spiro who?" who happened to be one of the party faithful, a ranking member of the National Committee. Julian Bond referred to him as a "Jive Maryland Farmer." He was in fact from Maryland, but that was the term we used to use in polite company to call somebody an MF. Agnew had to resign after he was indicted for tax fraud.

Who can forget Mondale-Ferraro? That's about all I can say about that ticket.

And poor Al Gore...I wonder if he has 27 dresses collected somewhere.

I would say that Dick Cheney was one of those "balance the ticket" choices. They needed somebody to balance the "C student." Did we ever think he would be so diabolical?

I remember the first time I saw a national convention was in 1956. (OK, I'm old.) But I was still a kid. My brothers were really caught up in the process and they gave me the play by play rundown on what was happening. In those days the nomination process went well into the night, with several roll-calls, wheeling and dealing on the floor until somebody emerged with a majority. The "runner up" was not always the choice for running mate.

When it comes down to this summer's conventions, I expect that the winner of the nomination will offer the VP slot to the runner up. And I think she will decline.

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