As the VP-stakes heats up, let's start with a reminder about the greatest moment in vice presidential debate history. Here is a moment from the 1988 vice presidential debate. One of these men became Vice President. Can you guess which one?
Lloyd Bentsen crushed Dan Quayle like Ted Cruz crushes puppies in his secret basement for fun. (I'm not kidding-- let's spread this one around, folks!) And did it cost Poppy Bush the '88 election? Nope.
So, really, how much does the VP nomination matter? Not much. The research basically says that a VP can give the top of the ticket maybe a point or two in his/her home state. That's about it. That ain't nothin', but it ain't much. So let's keep that in perspective as we look at the current state of the VP-stakes.
The buzz right now is that Trump is currently thinking about either Christie or Gingrich, or maybe Pence! The Christie or Gingrich pick would be basically Trump being Trump-- doubling down on aggression. The challenge is one of egos. Would either Christie or Gingrich be willing to subordinate themselves to Trump? If they think that Trump would be too lazy to govern, they could see themselves as Cheney-figures in a Trump administration, in which case the VP slot would't truly be subordinate. But, Pence's name has been floated too! And you know what? I floated his name back in April, before the nomination was settled as a way to calm the jittered nerves of establishment Republicans, which still need to be calmed! I'll still say Pence is in the mix.
What will Trump do? Who the hell knows. He's Trump. He could pick Meatloaf.
Clinton basically has three strategies since, unlike Trump, she basically thinks like a normal politician. 1) Go for the one-to-two point home state thing, 2) try to emphasize the Latino difference, and 3) try to goad Trump.
1) The obvious approach for this one is Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. This is the safe choice. Virginia is a tough state, but one in play. Tim Kaine is a boring but popular politician in his home state, and unlike, say, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Clinton wouldn't have to worry about a Republican Governor replacing him. Clinton has a history of playing it cautiously, making this a likely bet, but she also sometimes gets arrogant (think 2008, and assuming she would win everything by super-Tuesday), so maybe not.
2) The obvious picks here would be either Tom Perez or Julian Castro. Trump is basically making this an election about immigration. Normally, I get annoyed when people talk about elections by chopping up the electorate into narrow demographic slices. Soccer moms. Nascar dads. 34-37 year old, half Asian, half African-Americans with associates' degrees with enough bad taste to watch Michael Bay movies. Blah, blah, fucking blah. Trump, however, is making this about immigration and Latino identity. Clinton can emphasize that with a Latino VP. Perez has no history running before, though, and there may be some baggage with Castro, so who knows?
3) Warren. Elizabeth Warren. Nobody pisses off Trump like Elizabeth Warren, and the more pissed off he gets, the worse he can look to a lot of the electorate. This would be the most interesting choice Clinton could make, but with all the obvious risks. Clinton has never really been a gambler before. This would be a bold move. Then again, since VP nominees don't matter that much, the potential costs are pretty minimal, so hey, fuck it.
Wouldn't you love to watch Newt Gingrich debate Elizabeth Warren?
Me? I want the entertainment value. Gingrich v. Warren. Batman v. Superman sucked. I want Gingrich v. Warren. That would make up for what Zack Snyder did to us.
Notice what I'm not talking about-- Bernie fucking Sanders. No, Clinton does not need to mend fences with Sanders, nor make a pick to appeal to his voters. Sanders is soon to formally endorse Clinton, and he will actively campaign for her, primarily by campaigning strongly against Trump. His voters will come around. Why? Because they are Democrats.
We've been through this before. Over, and over, and over again. Remember the PUMAs? In 2008, HRC's supporters said they couldn't back Obama. Talk was that he needed her for his VP nominee for the "dream ticket." Otherwise, the party couldn't unify. He picked Biden instead. The party unified anyway. We get this nonsense every fucking year. It's bullshit every fucking year.
Voters, particularly those who vote in primaries, are partisans. They stick with their parties. They will say lots of crazy shit about what they will do in November. But, they are either lying, or deluding themselves. Sanders' voters will come around, regardless of whom Clinton picks.
That said, a Warren pick would probably appeal most to the Sanders people. That might be a consideration for her. If so, it isn't a rational consideration, but that doesn't mean it isn't real in her deluded, paranoid head.
My guess? Fuck if I know. Over at PredictWise, the betting currently favors Tim Kaine and Newt Gingrich. This year, though? 2016 disclaimer time...