Kerry Offered McCain Co-Presidency

The “Outlandish” McCain Offer (Newsweek)

Kerry’s courtship of Senator John McCain to be his running mate was longer-standing and more intense than previously reported. As far back as August 2003, Kerry had taken McCain to breakfast to sound him out to run on a unity ticket. McCain batted away the idea as not serious, but Kerry, after he wrapped up the nomination in March, went back after McCain a half-dozen more times. “To show just how sincere he was, he made an outlandish offer,” Newsweek’s Thomas reports. “If McCain said yes he would expand the role of vice president to include secretary of Defense and the overall control of foreign policy. McCain exclaimed, ‘You’re out of your mind. I don’t even know if it’s constitutional, and it certainly wouldn’t sell.'” Kerry was thwarted and furious. “Why the f— didn’t he take it? After what the Bush people did to him…'”

Amazing. While I don’t see any constitutional problems with delegating huge responsibilities to the Vice President it would be, to say the least, highly irregular. Indeed, a president who wasn’t running his own foreign and defense policy would hardly be president at all, given that those are the most significant powers and responsibilities he has.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jeff says:

    Something similar was what Gerald Ford reportedly wanted to accept Reagan’s offer of VP candidate in ’80 of I remember correctly.

  2. DC Loser says:

    This administration’s delegation of much of the national security agenda to Cheney’s inner circle comes close to what Kerry suggested.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Jeff: Yeah, Ford wanted a lot although I can’t recall exactly what portfolios he wanted. Reagan was’t doing the offering though–he was being asked and turned it down.

    DCL: Well, no. Cheney is certainly a major advisor of foreign policy but Rumsfeld runs Defense. And Bush rather clearly makes the ultimate decisions, as Cheney and Rummy have been overruled many a time in favor of Powell.

  4. McGehee says:

    Interesting how concerned McCain is about the constitutionality of the Veep also being SecDef — after co-authoring, and championing for years, a major hit on the First Amendment.

  5. McGehee says:

    Oh — and while I thought I was just being funny when I wrote my satire campaign slogan, this story suggests it was right on target.

    Kerry-Edwards: Because Kerry-McCain Didn’t Work Out

  6. Mark says:

    Maybe Ford wanted control of Reagan’s foreign policy so he could prove once and for all – Poland was indeed free.