Is A Running Mate Announcement Imminent?
As I said in an earlier post, there is much talk about an impending announcement by Camp Kerry of his running mate this week, possibly as early as tomorrow, which happens to be Bush’s 58th birthday (what better way to poke a finger in Bush’s eye than to steal his thunder and give him heartburn on his B-day). There have been reports that Kerry is going to select Gephardt, based on stories that his staffers are being collected to come join Kerry presumably for an announcement with their boss Mr. Gephardt. It is also true however that Kerry has been grabbing high-level talent from all of the campaigns of his primary foes to staff his general election effort, so having several Gephardt folks picked up and flown to an undisclosed location isn’t necessarily a sign of his selection.
What is interesting, and as I mentioned this morning, is that all of Kerry potential running mates have gotten meetings and face time with the candidate lately. Iowa governor Tom Vilsack got the in-person treatment from Kerry yesterday, fueling speculation that the choice was him. Then today, word got out that Kerry asked Edwards to interrupt a Disney World family vacation to fly to Washington and meet him last Thursday. And both ABC News and the Boston Globe reported today that Kerry had a meeting last Thursday night at Madeline Albright’s Washington home and his favored choice was in attendance. Both Vilsack and Edwards were not in Washington Thursday night, with Edwards presumably having returned to Florida by that time. However, Gephardt was in Washington that night. Yet, if Edwards did get bad news last Thursday in Washington, then why did he go ahead and do two fundraisers for Kerry today in Boston?
Gephardt for his part said as late as today that he didn’t “know anything” which is of course either a lie or it means that he still hasn’t been told anything by Kerry even though Kerry is appearing to make his announcement tomorrow. All of this while Kerry encourages the media and supporters to pay close attention to his appearance tomorrow morning at Pittsburgh’s Market Square for what is being billed as a big announcement. The campaign is encouraging the national media to have live video feeds tomorrow.
Of course, this could be nothing more than a clever effort to milk the suspense and keep the Bushies somewhat off balance as well, coming from a campaign that has had a deficit of excitement for months. Rove and Bush, for their parts, are already planning to run commercials using John McCain (in more ways than one) at the time that Kerry announces his running mate selection in an effort to undercut any benefit that Kerry would get from his selection. And Bush’s pollster, in a typical Rovian maneuver, is already setting the expectations of a Kerry running mate selection bounce way too high by claiming preposterously that Kerry will get a ten-point bounce from the announcement. Rove knows full well that such a bounce in a tight race so far will never happen. But what the McCain spot will do for Bush is gauge how much McCain can help Bush neuter Kerry’s moves, in a possible advance look at the dumping of Cheney for McCain.
But all the meetings and the encouragement to pay attention to tomorrow’s appearance can only make it very difficult for those Kerry is meeting with and considering, something he said he would not do after Gore put him through a similar exercise in 2000.
That is, it would be difficult for these potential running mates unless they already know that they are not to be selected.
Is it possible that Kerry is meeting with each of these people over the last week or so to tell them that they are not going to get the nod, but are going to be in the Cabinet? Would Kerry be making a really big announcement this week, of not only his running mate, but also of an opposition Cabinet? Could Kerry move from flying solo for the last several months without established surrogates to having a full-fledged team of star-power partners now attacking Bush for the next five months, most or all of whom are known commodities that have been vetted already and are respected? Would that not steal the competence issue from Bush and his team and give the country a good look at what they can expect the next four years of a true Democratic alternative?