Franks or Petraeus for Veep?

Alexander Burns notes that there is serious musing about retired General Tommy Franks and current General David Petraeus as the Republican vice presidential nomination. Burns finds it interesting that they might be “considered desirable vice presidential prospects, even as public enthusiasm for the war remains weak. With Iraq shaping up to be one of the defining issues of 2008, leading Republicans are not running away from the war. Many are actually running toward it.”

It’s incredibly rare that the veep nominee makes much of a difference in the race and I can’t imagine that Petraeus, much less Franks, would be an exception. And if Petraeus somehow manages to work a miracle in Iraq, I’m not sure why a VP run would be very attractive to him; he could certainly have a much more rewarding life on the book and lecture circuit.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, US Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. yetanotherjohn says:

    I think the winner in 2008 will be the one with a VP who can turn an otherwise large/secure state. For example, imagine if the democrats had a VP that could turn Texas or the GOP a VP that could turn California. I have trouble thinking of anyone for either side who could do that. So you move down the list of large states (Florida, Wisconsin, etc) that could prove decisive.

  2. Tano says:

    This sounds extremely counter-intuitive.

    One can assume that one of the interesting balancing acts that we will be watching is how the GOP nominee strives to maintain the (increasingly bizarre) natural advantage of the Republicans on matters of national security while also running away, at a high rate of speed, from the record of the Bush administration.

    Tommy Franks would probably be the absolute worst VP candidate imaginable. Would any GOP nominee really want the first month or so of the post-convention campaign focused on an examination of the issues surrounding the run-up to the war? Irrespective of how Franks himself might come off in such an evaluation?

    Given that the GOP nominee himself will be carrying the burden of trying to be the tough guy on national security, it seems pretty clear to me that the VP slot will need to go to someone who might be credible on all the non-military issues that will be a major concern in 08.

    Either general on the ticket, plus the nominee himself trying to be the relative hawk vis a vis the Dem nominee, would result in an extremely narrow platform – a war candidacy. Given how the American people are tiring of the war in any case, this seems like a recipe for total electoral disaster.

    Now if Petreaus is a democrat…..

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    I think the trend is away from military service as a prerequisite for seeking the highest offices in the land rather than the other way. Consider it this way. Go down the list of presidential aspirants one by one. Put either Franks or Petraeus in the #2 spot. Does it make the ticket, more credible, less credible, or no effect. My reckoning says little or no effect.

    Very, very unlikely to happen.

  4. spencer says:

    All my life I’ve had he greatest respect for the Us military leadership — and this includes growing up in the military during the cold war and strongly supporting our efforts in Viet Nam.

    But recently I’ve started thinking that much or our problem in Iraq stems from fundamental problems with the senior military leadership.

    this is not an easy conclusion to reach, but more and more I’m reaching the conclusion that the most important factor in the behavior of much of our senior military ranks is does this advance my career.

    The collary is that these individuals are quite willing to sacrifice US interest if it will advance their individual careers,.

    It is a conclusion I hate to come to, but it is increasingly hard hard to see how it is wrong.

  5. fredw says:

    This is confusing. Petraeus seems to be most valuable running the command in Iraq. Left to his own devices, this is a man that may actually be able to extricate us from the morass. Are we willing to hamper the war effort for political gain? On the other hand it would be refreshing to have a VP meddling in Iraq that actually knows what he is doing.

  6. fredw says:

    You may want to read Petraeus’ doctoral thesis — you can find it at It may give you an insight into how he thinks.

    Also, here is a man that was exiled to Fort Levenworth Kansas after speaking out on how the war was really going. He is back and in charge now because he was right, but he still took the risk. Let’s hope he has kept his integrity in his upcoming report.

    You may be correct about the military in many cases, but some at the top may still be acting in the best interest of the country despite the civilian leadership and consideration of their careers.

  7. Paul says:

    Any thought that this rumor is planted not for 2008 but for 2007 — that by floating the idea that they might make good VP candidates, it could serve to bolster the current PR campaign that Iraq is going well enough to make them worthy?

  8. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I know this is difficult for some to understand, but some men serve their country rather than the dollar. The statement about writing a book or lecturing does reveal a little. I think neither of these two men nentioned have been educated beyond their ability to understand.

  9. Boyd says:

    First, the main topic: I don’t see how Franks would help the GOP ticket, and I believe Petraeus is still too much of an unknown quantity.

    Second, Spencer, during my Navy career, I gathered much the same generalized opinion of senior military leadership that you now hold. Contrasted with that, though, is my belief that interspersed among the colorless, bureaucratic dregs are some brilliant, shining stars, and at a higher proportion than in civilian society.

    So just because I don’t have much respect for senior military leadership in general, I don’t paint every general or admiral with that same brush; some have proven themselves to be everything I expect from a military leader.