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It's Not Even Close: Obama Should Pick Clinton for VP

By Bob Beckel

It's not even close. Compare Hillary Clinton to all the names being floated for Barack Obama's running mate and the conclusion is beyond obvious Senator Obama, you are a very smart man which makes me confident you are ignoring the advice of the Washington chattering class who are strongly opposed to you putting Hillary Clinton on the ticket .

The chatterers are nice people but let's face it, most have never been involved in a campaign, know nothing about targeting, or persuadable voters, or analyzing polls beyond the match race and favorability ratings. They are people who harbor negative feelings towards Hillary Clinton formed years ago and who stubbornly ignore the evidence of her political maturation.

On the outside chance Senator you are listening to this uninformed conventional wisdom I offer the following rebuttal of the chatterers arguments and the case for choosing Clinton. For the record I did not support Clinton's campaign for the Democratic nomination.

* The chatterers insist she will be a drag on the ticket and bring the Republican base to the polls in huge numbers. If it is not obvious to the chatterers yet, they should pay closer attention the vicious anti Obama tirades by right wing bloggers and conservative talk radio show hosts. The Right will come to the polls all right...to vote against Barrack Obama in droves with or without Hillary Clinton.

* A drag on the ticket. Please. Hillary Clinton immediately expands the electoral map putting states in play that are currently out of Obama's reach; West Virginia, Kentucky, and Arkansas. She helps move toss up states to leaning Democrat; New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada (if Obama breaks north of 60% of the Hispanic vote he wins all three, Clinton helps get him there). Clinton helps solidify weak Democratic states including Pennsylvania and Michigan; she can bolster Obama's lead in Ohio and probably makes Florida competitive which it is not currently. Any other VP candidate that can expand the map like this? Not even close.

* Chatterers insist Clinton will be a distraction to your campaign. Exactly what does that mean? That she will be on another page and therefore step on your message? Ridiculous. There is no more disciplined, on message politician in America than Hillary Clinton. But the argument raises a question; why would she want to step on the message? If the message doesn't succeed then you don't succeed, then Hillary doesn't succeed. Why would she want that?

* Then there are the Bill Clinton arguments including his refusal to release contributors to his foundation. Fine, get him to agree to release the information but insist Cindy McCain release all her financial holdings, her separate tax returns for seven years, the amount of money her companies have paid in lobbying and pr to promote the sale of alcohol, and every position she holds in every company in which she has a financial interest or is on the board of directors. I think you will find the McCain campaign less insistent on Bill's financial disclosure.

* The Clintons are likely to make gaffes on the campaign trial the chatterers insist. Hillary Clinton has just finished running in 54 contests and got better and better with each one. Name me one of the other VP choices who can come close to matching her campaign skills. Certainly Bill Clinton made some mistakes during the nominating campaign but mostly because he took attacks on his wife too personally. He is still the best campaign horse in the stable. With Hillary on the ticket he'll campaign daily, without her only occasionally. Set Bill Clinton free in Appalachia and watch the anti Obama votes go way down.

* If you are elected Senator, so the charge goes, the Clintons will be constant problems for you. Hillary will promote her own agenda and Bill will wander the West Wing subverting your presidency. Absurd. When you get sworn in as president your stature will dwarf the Clintons. You have the Oval Office, Air Force One, and loyalists staffing the White House that wouldn't listen to Bill Clinton unless you insisted on it. I'd be surprised if he was in the White House more than a few days each year.

* As for Hillary subverting you, see above. Her political future will be dependent on your success; therefore she has every interest in promoting your agenda. The alternative (without her on the ticket) is much more problematical. She will be a huge force in the Senate with her own base and agenda. Would you rather have her out of the tent on the Hill permoting her own ideas or in your tent promoting yours? Not even a close call.

*A few other benefits of Clinton on the ticket; no one will be a more effective attack dog against McCain and the Right than Hillary. She can take the heat and defend you (something you are increasingly forced to do yourself). Every attack on McCain by Clinton will get wide coverage. No one has had more experience than Hillary on taking the Right to the wood shed and beating them to a pulp. She becomes the lightening rod, you go back to change and hope. Can any other VP choice do that? Not even close.

* By putting Clinton on the ticket you marry up the best money and organizational operations in the history of the Democratic Party. It wasn't her national organization that screwed up it was her supposed brain trust. With her money people committed, a $400 million dollar budget is very doable. Does any other VP choice have an organizational and money base like that? Not even close.

* You will sit atop the most unified Democratic Convention since the advent of television. The picture of you and Hillary Clinton together is a nightmare for Republicans. The GOP operatives are yearning for you to pick anyone besides Clinton. You scare them, she scares them, together you are their worst nightmare.

* Finally, and maybe most important of all, McCain and the Right have only one hope of defeating you Senator, and that is to make you too naïve and risky to be Commander in Chief. Your vice presidential choice must reek of experience. The argument against Clinton is she represents the past and hurts your change message. Sure the voters want change from what hasn't worked, but they embrace past success. Most voters recall the Clinton years (from a policy perspective at least) as successful. A message of change combined with a record of past success is a more comforting message than change alone. Can another VP candidate provide that level of comfort? Not even close.

Bob Beckel managed Walter Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign. He is a senior political analyst for the Fox News Channel and a columnist for USA Today. Beckel is the co-author with Cal Thomas of the book "Common Ground."

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