News & Election Videos

RealClearPolitics VP Watch

RCP Staff

« The Case For Portman | VP Watch Home Page | Throwing Out the Box »

Foreign Policy and Obama's VP

News that Va. Gov. Tim Kaine is among the finalists in Obama's VP search brings the question of whether Obama will abandon foreign policy as a credential for his running mate. A month or so ago, this seemed unthinkable. But a few things have happened that might have caused the campaign to sacrifice finding a running mate who could fill this major deficit with voters.

1. The campaign perhaps figured that Obama's world tour would shore up his deficit on this front with voters enough to last until the debates, when Obama would then try to stand on his own against McCain. Recent polls, however, show that that might not be the case.

2. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's quasi-endorsement of Obama's 16-month timetable further helped the campaign make the case that judgment is more important than experience. Of course the McCain campaign counters that it was the surge -- which Obama vociferously denounced -- that has allowed the discussion of timetables to even be considered.

3. The worsening economy promises to keep it the focus of voters' attention going into the fall campaign. Essentially, the Obama campaign will bet on the economy staying bad. If it doesn't, or if there's a foreign-policy crisis, then this could prove to be a bad bet.

4. The tightening of polls in key battleground states like Virginia have raised the importance of picking a running mate who could carry a state. Candidates like Joe Biden, even Hillary Clinton, don't do much for Obama in Virginia or Missouri. Kaine and Sen. Claire McCaskill might, however. That could be a big "might," but if it pays off, it will be Obama laughing all the way to the White House.