On Tuesday, the Obama campaign suffered the biggest blow to their chances in November since the emergence of the the Rev. Wright videotapes.
The stunning announcement on NPR by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland that, under no circumstances, would he run/accept the VP slot with Obama threatens Obama’s chances to garner the 270 required electoral votes.
On the popular show, “All Things Considered,” Strickland was asked if he was angling to become Obama’s vice-presidential running mate. He said, “Absolutely not. If drafted I will not run; if nominated I will not accept; and if elected I will not serve.”
This unexpected announcement removes the most likely VP choice for Obama.
Strickland was crucial to Obama’s attempt to win two of the three key swing, battleground states: Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
McCain is way ahead in Florida and most astute political pros do not think Obama can make the Sunshine State even close in the fall.
Pennsylvania, which in recent years has gone into the Democratic column, is slightly leaning toward the Democrats again this year.
So it is Ohio like 2004, which may hold the key to winning in November. And for that reason yours truly has been telling everyone that Obama’s most likely VP choice was Strickland. A former U.S. congressman and an ordained minister, the governor would have been an ideal choice and the type the Democrats have not recently made.
Joe Lieberman in 2000 and John Edwards in 2004 were total failures because they brought nothing to the ticket: no state, no region, and no constituency.
The VP pick must give the presidential nominee something he would not have had without it. In Strickland, Obama would have had a more than even shot to win the Buckeye State, plus the governor was for Hillary so he would help heal that divide. And his executive experience would help, too.
If the revelation of the Rev. Wright on those explosive videotapes was the single biggest blow to Obama so far, this sudden announcement by Ted Strickland is indeed a major setback for Obama’s ability to garner those 270 electors.
He now may have to revamp his strategy and focus on other states which are more difficult for him to win, such as North Carolina, Colorado, and Virginia. Democrats do not win these states in presidential elections; maybe this year will be different. But the Obama brain trust knows their odds are worse in these states.
So, who now goes to the top of Obama’s veep list?
Is it Bill Richardson (for the Hispanic vote)? Is it some retired general (dubious . . . would be a huge mistake. Generals are not usually adept at the skills necessary to be a candidate, risky to bet the ranch on an untested candidate), Bill Nelson of Florida (probably couldn’t deliver Florida anyway so it would be a wasted pick), or does this surprise by Strickland put Hillary back in the running?
On the GOP/McCain side, Mitt Romney is ahead in the veep stakes, mainly to help in Michigan and to help raise money.
But there is a long, long way to go even to the two conventions.
No decisions will be made until mid-August.
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