Why Not Hillary?
The GOP has come up with a clever yet bizarre line of attack on Barack Obama: How dare he pass over Hillary Clinton for Joe Biden as his running mate?
The timing is a reference to Hillary Clinton’s national security ad during the Democratic primary and the same time the Obama campaign sent out its text message announcing Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden as the vice-presidential nominee.
“She won millions of votes. But isn’t on his ticket. Why?” an announcer says in the 30-second spot.
The answer? “For speaking the truth.”
The ad, which has not yet been released [as of 6:29 yesterday evening], then ticks off a litany of criticism Clinton used against Obama in the prolonged primary, according to a transcript sent to reporters.
“You never hear the specifics,” Clinton says.
“On the Rezko scandal,” the voice says.
“We still don’t have a lot of answers about Senator Obama,” Clinton says in footage from the primaries.
“Senator Obama’s campaign has become increasingly negative,” Clinton says in another scene.
The announcer closes by saying “The truth hurt. And Obama didn’t like it.”
The ad is the latest sign that the presidential contest has grown increasingly personal. It’s also proof that the some times bitter battle between the two Democratic senators has provided useful fodder to the Republican opposition.
The campaign also quickly emailed around a CNN Political Ticker story headlined “Some in Clinton circle ‘outraged’.”
Evan as Hillary Clinton praised the newly-minted Democratic presidential ticket Saturday, some in her circle are furious Barack Obama did not appear to give the New York Democrat serious consideration for the No. 2 spot, or even ask for her consultation on the matter.
“Set aside that Obama said she’d be on anybody’s short list, set aside anybody’s feelings on whether she was deliberately snubbed and the pros and cons of whether it should be her,” a former Clinton strategist told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “Focus on the politics of it and you have about a quarter of Clinton loyalists still not joining the caravan…for God’s sake, not to even make a show of taking her seriously is flatly stupid.”
A top Clinton advisor also told CNN they were “outraged,” over how the process was conducted. “You can’t put [Obama VP vetters] Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy on an hour plane ride to Chappaqua just to check the box? They should have done it just for the optics,” this person said. “Barack never even said to her, ‘Here’s how I envision the job’— not one discussion with her about [the position].”
“They thought her supporters were mad before? They are really mad now,” this person also said. We knew it was never going to happen but you would have thought they might at least make a show of it.”
Not to be outdone, Bill Kristol weighs in with a blog post entitled “The Democrats’ Glass Ceiling.”
So Hillary Clinton gets about 18 million votes in 2008, and isn’t even considered for–she apparently isn’t even given the courtesy of being consulted–the vice presidential pick. Joe Biden manages to persuade a few thousand (if that) Iowans to support him. And Barack Obama selects Biden? Normally, if the VP pick came from that year’s presidential field, it’s the runner-up (Kerry-Edwards in 2004, Reagan-Bush in 1980, Stevenson-Kefauver in 1956). (Lyndon Johnson in 1960 hadn’t entered the primaries.) And Biden wasn’t even the third most successful candidate this year (hi, John Edwards!), or fourth (Bill Richardson, I suppose), or fifth (Dennis Kucinich!).
What’s more, Biden and Hillary have basically comparable foreign policy “experience” (such as it is in either case). Nor is Biden clearly more knowledgeable in foreign affairs than Hillary. And they have pretty similar foreign policy views. So no advantage to Biden there. And, unlike Jack Reed, for example, Biden didn’t serve in the military. So no advantage over Hillary there. Nor does he outshine her in executive experience (unlike Evan Bayh or Tim Kaine or Kathleen Sebelius)–neither Biden nor Hillary has any.
Stoking the lingering resentments of the Hillary camp is probably smart politics, although doing it so brazenly could backfire and cause more of them to realize that they’re playing into the Republicans’ hands. But the idea that Clinton was somehow owed a VP offer is silly.
By Kristol’s logic, Mike Huckabee should be McCain’s running mate. At the very least, he should be be seriously interviewed and Mitt Romney should get the nod, under the theory that Huckabee only surpassed him because he stayed in the race long after it was over. Does anyone think McCain is seriously thinking about Huckabee?
Did Obama take “seriously” the idea of putting Hillary on the ticket? I can’t imagine he didn’t given the delegate math. But he and his team surely came to the conclusion that giving her the nod would be a disaster, given the hundreds of sound bytes she gave the GOP and the complications that Bill Clinton brings to the mix. Having decided that, pretending to interview her for the gig would have arguably been more insulting than moving on to other candidates.
And, please, let’s not pretend that Hillary Clinton has anything like Joe Biden’s foreign policy gravitas. It’s been his bread and butter since Hillary was in law school. She’s a junior Senate backbencher whose “experience” until eight years ago consisted of being married to a powerful man. Did she learn a lot as a result of that partnership? Sure. Is it comparable to chairing the Foreign Relations Committee? Not hardly.
Republican delegrate graphic via CNN.