News & Election Videos

RealClearPolitics VP Watch

RCP Staff

« Pros And Cons Of Veep Leaders | VP Watch Home Page | Todd Talks Timing For McCain »

Who's The VP? Who Cares?

Well, not everybody's waiting with baited breath for a VP announcement. In today's Wall Street Journal, Ken Khachigian argues that the veep hype is much ado about nothing:

The reality of presidential campaigns is this: Voters don't select the main course based on the side dish. By the first week of October, the race will be about the two principals. All the current punditry about balancing the ticket, fine-tuning demographics, complementing policy strengths, and delivering a key state will be forgotten. In the end, the vice presidential nominee's key campaign role is not to mess up. If a running mate is in the national news the last two weeks of the campaign, it will be because a grievous error has been committed...

Today's overheated fascination with selecting presidential running mates is about boredom relief for opinion writers, political junkies and the media. It provides an escape from the fatigue of an 18-month nomination race -- a new rabbit to chase. In 60 days, the presidential election will be about two candidates: John McCain and Barack Obama. Today's anticipation, excitement and obsession about vice presidential running mates will be a distant memory.

While Khachigian makes some valid points, I'd argue that the veep choice is anything but a total wash. One of the most memorable moments from the 2004 campaign, for instance, came with the VP debates--a largely agreed-upon rout where a grouchy Dick Cheney verbally ate John Edwards for dinner. It may not have been a deal breaker or maker, but it was well-noted in the media, and served as a serious blow to the credibility of the Kerry-Edwards campaign. VPs don't always make the ultimate difference. But in a campaign like this one, anything goes.

-Heather Wilhelm