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Category Archive for ‘VP-Dem’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'VP-Dem' Category


Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

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Joe Biden and “Barack America” hold first joint appearance

Barack Obama and Joe Biden just held their first joint rally in Springfield, IL, and the two men’s speeches gives us a better idea of the parts of Biden’s biography that the campaign will push the strongest: More than his foreign policy experience, his expertise on Iraq, Georgia and national security, it is Biden’s economic background, his commitment to the middle class and his appeal to white ethnics that the campaign chose to outline.

Overall, the goal was clear: Address whatever fears white working-class voters might have about Obama, his values and his alleged elitism. Voters might not know Biden, but in many ways that’s even better, as the Obama campaign gets to use the next 5 days to introduce him to the public by highlighting whatever attributes they want voters to remember about him.

How many times today did we hear that Biden is from Scranton? How many times did we hear that he commutes home via train every single day? Here’s a typical sentence, from Obama’s introductory speech: “That’s because he is still that scrappy kid from Scranton who beat the odds; the dedicated family man and committed Catholic who knows every conductor on that Amtrak train to Wilmington.”

This is the Joe Biden Obama seems most anxious that voters meet first; the time will come, of course, to outline his foreign policy experience, but the most urgent task at hand for the Delaware Senator (”Pennsylvania’s third Senator,” said Obama’s PA chair) is to shore up Obama’s support among white ethnics - the constituency Obama has difficulty with.

This is, in essence, a quest for the Hillary voter. And while Obama did not end up choosing his former rival as his running-mate, nor one of her former supporters, today’s speeches showed that his campaign intends to use Biden to reach the electorate Clinton appealed to.

In particular, the Biden pick looks like an opportunity for Obama to showcase his “Americanness” and that of the Democratic ticket. In his introduction, Obama praised Biden’s “resilience” in the face of adversity - an attribute, Obama said, that defines the American Dream. Soon after, Biden noted that he and Obama shared an “American story,” celebrating Obama’s biography, that of a kid being raised by a single mother who sometimes lived on food stamps.

Biden went on to call Obama “Barack America.” I don’t know whether that was a slip or if it was deliberate, and it was certainly making the point a bit too forcefully, but today’s speeches leave little doubt that next week’s convention will be largely devoted to “Americanizing” Obama’s image, showcasing values that those Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are still reluctant to embrace Obama can relate to.

Today’s speeches also showed us something else: Joe Biden will not be John Edwards. He will not shy away from being an attack dog, and as we learned from his past one-liners (”A noun, a verb and 9/11″), Biden can fulfill this role very effectively. Today, Biden pointed out that McCain is his friend, but he went on to rip the Arizona Senator for supporting the Bush Administration and offering “more of the same.” We cannot take the risk of “four more years of George W. Bush and John McCain,” said Biden, who hit McCain for being out of touch on the economy. While Americans sit at their kitchen table to figure out how to pay the bills, Biden says, McCain has “to think about which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at.

And he hits McCain’s real estate holdings, a signal that Obama has settled firmly on his negative message and the coming convention is likely to be a forum for extended derision of the Republican nominee. Biden says that while, “at kitchen tables like mine,” Americans worry about their shrinking incomes, “that’s not a worry [McCain] has to worry about.” “You have to think about which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at,” Biden says, going on to quote McCain’s praise of Bush.

Coming just 48 hours from the start of the Democratic convention, this was a clear signal that Obama has no intention of transforming the week into a repeat of the 2004 convention, when John Kerry had instructed speakers to not criticize Bush. We still have to see the degree to which next week’s speakers will go negative, of course, but if today is any indication the controversy over McCain’s houses will feature prominently. As I said two days ago, the willingness to hit McCain could prove very important for Obama in his quest to rally the base.

Republicans, meanwhile, are doing what they can to undermine Obama’s choice. Two narratives seem to predominate: The first is that the choice of Biden demonstrates that Obama does not trust his own judgment, the second is that Biden has been critical of the Illinois Senator in the past. Early this morning, the McCain campaign released a memo:

Senator Biden doesn’t believe that Senator Obama is ready to serve as president. When asked about Senator Obama’s lack of experience he said, “The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.” The fact is, there has been no harsher critic of Senator Obama’s lack of readiness to serve than his new running-mate, Senator Joe Biden.

As speculation had surrounded Biden for days now, the McCain campaign clearly had ample time to prepare opposition material, and it has also already released an ad that will air in “key states:”

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDVUPqoowf8"]

No word on how much the McCain campaign intends to run this ad, but as I pointed out yesterday this type of strategy has not been particularly successful in the past. The Obama campaign is probably already ready with a response to this predictable attack. Overall, this is a curious situation in which most of the GOP’s criticism is aimed at Obama via praise for Biden rather than Republicans attacking Biden himself - certainly a very unusual situation, and we have to wonder whether this could backfire by making voters trust Biden more.


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It’s Biden!

Old media prevailed over new technology, and the Obama campaign may come to regret hyping up its text messages as we all waited for nothing. No one’s phone is buzzing, but the news has now been broken by CNN: Joe Biden will be the Democrats’ 2008 vice-presidential nominee.

This is a strong choice on paper; and given Biden’s campaigning abilities it should prove a very real boost to Obama’s candidacy in the weeks ahead. A moderate Democrat, Biden is nonetheless more acceptable to the liberal base than choices like Nunn and Bayh; a former presidential contender, he did not endorse in the primaries, thus perhaps seeming less of a diss to Clinton supporters than people like Kaine and Sebelius; and as a foreign policy expert with blue-collar credentials, he palliates many of Obama’s weaknesses. At the same time, it is risky for Obama the change agent to associate himself with Biden’s 35 years in Washington, his support for the war and his questionable links to credit card companies.

The first day of Biden’s 2008 run began just as disastrously as his 1988 campaign ended, as the Delaware Senator drew fire for a comment he made about Obama: “You got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Later, Biden said, in what was meant as a direct shot to Obama, that the presidency is “not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.”

No one could have guessed in those days that the Democratic ticket would be Obama-Biden. But when Biden was asked about a series of racially insensitive comments at an Iowa debate in December, Obama jumped to his defense, offering a “testimony” (video here). And over the past few weeks, Biden emerged as a top contender, one that did awake any major opposition from Democratic constituencies (unlike, say, Evan Bayh) and whose biggest liability (his tendency to put his foot in his mouth) was less worrisome than those of other VP candidates.

Obama had clear strategy choices to make: Would he seek to double up on his strengths (bi-partisanship, change, youth, outsider status) or would he address his weaknesses? Tim Kaine and Kathleen Sebelius were in the former category; Evan Bayh was closer to the latter, but hovered somewhere in the middle.

With Joe Biden, Obama has chosen someone in the second category: Biden brings extensive experience and solid national security credentials. He is the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, a 6th term Senator and an expert in foreign affairs, with a relationship with many world leaders. During the Democratic debates, he showed he could sound like an expert when talking about Iraq or other foreign policy issues, while also coming across as someone who is acting, doing something (just last week-end, Biden traveled to Georgia because he was invited by the country’s president) and passing legislation - that is not an easy thing to show for a Senator, let alone for one who has been in the body for 6 terms.

But Biden can also help Obama talk about the economy, as he has strong credentials on domestic issues, making him as all-around a VP contender as Obama could have picked from. On a more personal level, Biden could address Obama’s weakness among blue-collar whites, union workers. He is a Catholic - a swing constituency. He is one of the least rich Senators - 99th in terms of assets and income - and he commutes by train every single work day from his Delaware home to Capitol Hill. And Obama could be hoping that voters could to identify with Biden’s relatively awkward relationship with racial conversations, an awkwardness exemplified by his “clean, articulate” comment. And while Biden is not a Webb-like populist, his selection could serve to appeal to conservative Democrats in Midwestern states and the Appalachian region.

In particular, if there is one region in which Obama could be boosted by the Biden pick, it is Pennsylvania. Not only do parts of the state share their media market with Delaware, but Biden himself is from Scranton, in the Northeastern part of the state. Holding on to downscale white voters in Pennsylvania will be key to Obama’s success, and Biden could help him shore up his support there enough to solidify the state in the blue column. (Do note, however, that the Biden pick was not done for geographic considerations and that he is intended to bolster Obama’s message, biography and experience rather than boost his numbers in a particular state. There is of course nothing wrong with that; Al Gore came from Bill Clinton’s region, and Edwards did nothing for Kerry in North Carolina.)

There are, of course, risks that come with the Biden choice. For one, and as I noted above, the Delaware Senator was critical of Obama during the primaries and he used arguments that could fit perfectly well with McCain’s attacks on Obama’s inexperience. The GOP has already come out with a statement using Biden’s quotes: “There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama’s lack of experience than Joe Biden.” I doubt this can play a big role. Kerry managed fine with Edwards, and some of the most successful tickets in recent presidential politics (Kennedy-Johnson, Reagan-Bush) did not involve the best of friends. If McCain picks Romney next week, it would be Democrats’ turn to have a field day with past quotes.

Second, Biden is an establishment Democrat, one that has been in the Senate for a long time: He got there at 30, he is now 65 - that’s much more than half of his life. That could undermine Obama’s message of change, as well as the clear generational contrast that the election is being shaped around. If Obama’s candidacy is meant to convey a new type of politics, how does Joe Biden fit with that? In particular, Biden’s ties to credit card companies (he is, after all, from Delaware) and his vote for the bankruptcy bill could be difficult to explain away.

Three, there is Iraq. Biden voted in favor of the war back in 2002, and while he has become a strong opponent since then, Obama barely differentiated between Hillary (who refused to apologize) and Edwards (who did) when using the issue of the war vote. And this has been something that has featured at the center of Obama’s campaign, as he often argues that it exemplifies the fact that he has the right judgment. Also, how will Obama deal with Biden’s Iraq plan, which calls for the country’s division in three zones? Biden talked about that often on the campaign trial in Iowa; will Obama ask him to no longer mention it?

Third, Biden’s experience will now be contrasted to Obama’s lack of background on national security affairs, and the extent of the discrepancy could reflect badly on the Illinois Senator. In particular, the electorate might be weary of falling back in the 2000 situation: George Bush’s choice of Dick Cheney was seen as giving the Texas Governor a knowledgeable figure to fall back on, but Bush is now viewed as relying too much on Cheney and having given him too much control. At the same time, is it not better for Obama to take this risk than be opened to the criticism that his ticket has no national security credentials at all?

Fourth, Biden has the reputation of putting his foot in his mouth and being very verbose. This is the flip of his wit and sharp responses. Biden will certainly have to be careful in the coming months, and as all caricatures this one is probably overstated.

There are a few other considerations relating to Biden. First, the line of succession: Bayh and Kaine would both have given their seats to a Republican. Biden is running for re-election right now, and odds are he will remain on the ballot. If he wins both elections, he would resign from the Senate and the Governor would name his replacement. Now, there is a gubernatorial election this year, and it is an open one. However, Democrats are heavily favored to carry it and thus Biden’s Senate seat should remain in Democratic hands.

Second, future presidential elections: Biden is 65. If his ticket wins in November, Obama would run again in 2012. By 2016, Biden will be 73, putting him in a Cheney-esque position of not being in a position to run. That means that, in case of an Obama victory, his succession will be open. Biden was one of the only VP contenders to be in such a position: Kaine, Bayh and Sebelius would have been the immediate favorites to being the presidential nominee in 2016.

Finally, let’s get back to the text message: What is the Obama campaign thinking? The Obama campaign had repeatedly promised that this phone number collecting effort was serious and that people who had signed up would be the first to know; they insisted on this, and the text messaging hype of the past few days was based on that. It has now been more than 90 minutes since CNN, followed by all the networks, wires and papers, reported that Biden was the pick. Yet, there is still no news from Obama - neither an e-mail nor a text message. [Update at 3am: Well, Biden has just been added to the website. Still no text though, and if Obama is worried about waking us up he could at least send an e-mail.]

I am at a loss to explain how the Obama campaign could allow this to happen, as they certainly lost credibility in the process and opened themselves up to criticism. After all, this scheme was part of Obama’s promise to make this a different sort of campaign, one closer to people without intermediary mediums, But as soon as the campaign started to tell VP contenders they were and were not picked, the news was bound to get leaked, and they must have known that. So why plan to send a text message hours after? Why allow yourself be scooped on news that you yourself are creating?


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VP madness: It’s Biden, unless it’s Sebelius, or Edwards, or Reed

Throughout the night, various networks and wire services reported that Bill Richardson, then Tim Kaine, then Evan Bayh and then Chris Dodd and Hillary Clinton were told by Barack Obama that they were not his picks. At this point, all of that information appears to be more than just idle speculation, as many media sources have independently confirmed it (in fact, we are already hearing about Bayh’s reaction to the news).

Of the top-tier’s trio, only Joe Biden is left standing and most of the speculation is concentrated on him, quite understandably. He is now the favorite. The media seems to be on the verge of breaking the story before the text message is sent. ABC News reporting that the Secret Service is heading to Joe Biden’s house is as close the press can get without actually saying that Biden is the pick. (If it is Biden, good job Gloria Borger, back on January 12th.)

Yet, the networks are now reporting that the Obama text message will not be sent before tomorrow morning (as early as 4am, notes CNN). It would not be good press for Obama if people who had signed up for his text message hear about his pick before receiving the announcement, particularly after all this week’s hype. It is hard to understand why the Obama campaign is not sending its text message at this point, especially if the choice is Biden.

The Obama campaign must have known that Biden would become the talk of the country and of evening cable shows if he contacted Kaine and Bayh tonight and allowed the information about their not being picked to be leaked. His campaign was fine with that - but then why would they be postponing the text message? Why are they not only not worried about being scooped, but are even actively pushing the media towards scooping them?

Is this a final head-fake? If so, what would be the point? If it’s not, can the Obama campaign ensure that it’s text message goes out before the media manages to confirm that it’s Biden?

Apart from Biden, there remain some people who we know were vetted but about whom there are no reports tonight - Kathleen Sebelius, Jack Reed and Chet Edwards (am I forgetting anyone?). While the news about the secret service does make it probable that Obama has informed Biden that he is the nominee, it is still possible that Obama has picked Sebelius or Edwards. Unlike, of course, there are other contenders whom we haven’t really heard about - a Dick Lugar, perhaps.

The quick take, then: We will all know in a few hours. Anyone but Biden would be considered a big surprise, but there are still many people who have not been ruled out. All in all, good job for the Obama campaign to completely own the day’s news cycle and manage to transform a Friday night into a major political spectacle - but they better make sure they aren’t getting scooped.

Until then, the list of names which have been told they would not be the pick is major news. All these names - especially Kaine and Bayh - were in the top-tier of vice-presidential contenders, names we have been hearing for weeks, names we have been speculating about, reading about, fighting about. So much for the Kaine buzz in late July; and so much for the buzz surrounding Bayh in the last days before the Olympics; and so much for the unity ticket that was making so much more sense over the past week or two than it did in June.

(And while we wait, check out this incredible video from Fox News. I noted yesterday that TV channels including Fox News had refused to air the Ayers ad because they would open themselves up to being sued for slander. But in a segment in which a correspondent was talking about the Rezko ad, Fox News (accidentally?) launched the Ayers ad in front of Rezko’s… and let it run for about 40 seconds. To be fair to the Fox News correspondent, she did seem genuinely confused - “this is not the right ad,” she murmured - but anchor Shep Smith interrupted in what almost appears like a veiled threat: “It was an ad. Come on, give us a break,” to which she responded with a fake-sounding laugh, repeating “it was an ad.” The morale of the story seems to be that when Fox News anchors want to show a video, well, they do.)


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Obama needs Clinton voters, and why the Democratic convention will be crucial

A few days from the convention, the polls released this week will be used as a marker to determine whether Obama receives a bounce next week. Three major national polls released in the past 24 hours have Obama leading by 3%:

  • An NBC/WSJ poll has Obama leading 45% to 42% nationally. A worry for McCain: 77% believe he would follow Bush’s policies.
  • A NYT/CBS poll has the same exact numbers, with Obama leading 45% to 42%. Voters overwhelmingly named the economy as their top issues - which is both good news to Democrats and should worry them that they can’t open the lead in such circumstances.
  • A third national poll, released by Fox News, finds Obama leading 42% to 39%.

The most shocking result of all in this wave of surveys is the internal number in the NBC poll that Obama only gets 52% of Clinton supporters, with 27% undecideds and 21% for McCain - meaning that a full 11% of the sample is made up of Clinton backers who are now not supporting Obama. These 11% do lean Democratic in the sense that they think Bush is doing a bad job and that the country is headed in the wrong direction, but they also have a far more favorable opinion of McCain.

Recapturing these voters could do a lot to put Obama on top - and it’s unlikely the Democrat will ever have a comfortable lead unless he closes the deal with these Clinton supporters. Indeed, it is not just the NBC poll that has Obama too weak among registered Democrats, as most state polls show McCain is more in control of registered Republicans than Obama is of his base.

We are a few hours - perhaps a day, perhaps mere minutes - away from Obama’s VP pick and the Senator now says that he has already made his pick. But it is hard to escape from a simple conclusion: An Obama-Clinton ticket makes much more sense today than it did two months ago. After Obama wrapped up his nomination, the conventional wisdom - that I repeated here - was that he would only pick Clinton if, when the time came to make his choice, he had yet to heal the party’s divisions and needed a bigger show of unity with his former rival. In early June, conventional wisdom also held that Obama would be able to build solid numbers among registered Democrats, and would thus not need to go with Hillary.

Even if Clinton is not picked as the vice-president, the delegates’ floor vote, Hillary’s Wednesday night speech and the choreography of her endorsement of Obama might be the week’s most crucial moments. If these “cathartic” moments (as Ed Rendell put it) manage to bring Hillary supporters back in the Obama camp, the Illinois Senator could enjoy a big post-convention bounce. But if something goes wrong, or if the press seizes on a protest staged by a few Clinton delegates, the road could become more difficult for Obama.

The fact that Obama has room to grow among registered Democrats heightens the importance of next week’s convention - giving the event a bigger potential but also increasing the risks. These giant political infomercials might have become too conventional to seduce independents (in 2004, neither Kerry nor Bush got a significant bounce), but much of what Obama needs in this Democratic-tilting year is solid support from his base. The convention is an ideal moment for him to reach for that.

Another thing we will have to watch for is whether the Obama campaign imposes a “positive-only” rule on its speakers. The Kerry campaign had insisted that the 2004 convention stay positive, and that Bush not be mentioned. That had lead to a somewhat mellow four-days, and compared to the vitriol coming out of the GOP convention a month later it ended up looking like a bad choice. But the decision at least made sense on paper, as Kerry wanted to appeal to independent voters. In 2008, Obama has still not closed the deal with his base; and while the Democrats who are hesitating to vote for him certainly skew conservative, they nonetheless remain partisan. A convention is a candidate’s chance to throw meat at the base and play on their partisan allegiances. Will Obama take that route, or will his campaign imitate John Kerry’s?


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VP Watch: Wild speculation, but very few answers

As you have surely noticed, I have been staying away from this final stretch of veepstake speculation because these last few days have generated an incredible amount of wild speculation - a lot of which are impossible to verify. So here’s an attempt at separating some elements of fact from the growingly hysterical buzz.

When: Obama has to make some sort of announcement in the coming days, and the text message announcement could come at any moment. What now looks fairly certain is that Obama will appear with his vice-presidential pick in Springfield, IL this Saturday, meaning that the choice will be announced some time before then - most probably from Thursday morning to Friday night.

As for McCain, the timing became much less suspensful when McCain did not make any announcement last week, as the only slot he had left was August 29th. Politico confirmed yesterday that the McCain campaign was organizing a large-scale rally in Dayton, OH on that Friday (the day after the Democratic convention), an event at which the Senator will appear with his own pick.

The Democratic short list: Bayh, Biden, Kaine. Biden, Kaine, Bayh. Kaine, Biden, Bayh. The top-tier has been known for weeks, but no new information that has come out in the past week has allowed us to find out who is about to get the nod. (1) Mark Warner becoming the keynote speaker was taken as a sign that Kaine would not be the pick, but Obama might very well be planning a Virginia-centric convention. (2) Joe Biden traveled to Georgia not because Obama sent him there but because the Georgian President invited him. And his telling the press “I’m not the guy” sparked so much talk that “it might not be Biden” after all that Biden “walked it back” Tuesday night.

(3) Was the mounting speculation surrounding Bayh last week a trial balloon? If it was, many progressives tried their best to pop it, but is that what Obama was hoping would happen (if he wants to go to the center) or what he feared? What about Bloomberg story that Bayh could be out because of his wife’s seats on corporate boards? The Obama campaign surely already knew about that and if Bayh was still in the running after being vetted it is surely after the campaign had already thought that through.

And what about other contenders? We have had some hard information pointing towards Hillary Clinton not being the VP pick (even though that is far from certain, and Ralph Nader is betting it will be), what about Nunn and Sebelius? Why have they dropped out of the top-tier? It might very well be because there is no buzz around them, but there is no hard information pointing towards Sebelius not being on Obama’s short list. She is still not responding to questions, Obama still speaks highly of her and we are pretty sure she was being vetted. Same with Reed, Richardson, and Dodd.

In other words, it is still anyone’s game - though there is no question that the conventional wisdom appears to have settled on Joe Biden just as it settled on Tim Kaine three weeks ago and Evan Bayh before Obama went on his Hawaii break. Howard Fineman is reporting that Biden is the favorite, and Intrade and Hillary’s alums apparently agree. That might very well be because Biden looks like the most obvious choice on paper - especially since Webb and Strickland took themselves out of the running. And it is true that Obama is more unlikely to pick a completely unexpected pick - say a Schweitzer or a Hagel - with only days to go until the convention and a time he has a consistent but very narrow lead. That’s a position that leads one to caution.

The pro-choice trial balloon: The discussion in the GOP veepstakes has almost entirely centered on the possibility of a pro-choice VP pick over the past few days. McCain himself said he was open to the idea last week, and the resulting outcry led people to conclude that the trial balloon had been popped for good. But last night, the speculation started over as the National Review reported that Republican officials were being contacted and asked about such a possibility. The result has been a firestorm of rumors: NR launched its anti-Ridge lobbying, and the Page is now saying that Ridge is out. That would still leave us with Joe Lieberman - a pick that is generating a lot of buzz but that is so bizarre that it is difficult for me to assess what effect that might have on the race.

So bluff or serious vetting? Trial balloon or true short list? There is simply no way of knowing, as every argument has its inverse. It makes perfect sense for McCain to float the possibility of a pro-choice pick like Lieberman and Ridge even if he ends up selecting someone else. It makes him look moderate and willing to consider figures whom the electorate thinks of as centrist. It also could make conservatives relieved with whatever pro-lifer they get, even if it’s someone like Romney or Crist whom they have had disagreements with (this is very much the same situation as the Democratic veepstakes, where Biden or Kaine, both moderates, could be viewed as a relief by progressives compared to Nunn, Hagel or Bayh).

On the other hand, we do know that McCain would want to pick someone like Lieberman if there was no political drawback and that choosing an unconventional choice like Lieberman or Ridge would make sense (at least on paper), for it would bolster McCain’s “maverick” theme, allow him to double-up on experience and on national security - two areas he has put at the center of his attacks against Obama. The McCain campaign might also be thinking that Rush Limbaugh’s outrage at the thought of a pro-choice ticket sounds like the anti-McCain statements he and other conservative activists made earlier this year, in other words not taking the threats of an unenthusiastic base that seriously.

Here again, it is anyone’s game - and it is especially difficult to say what McCain is thinking because his campaign’s thinking will most probably be influenced by Obama’s choice and even by the tone of the Democratic convention. Will the election be waged on experience, on national security, on domestic issues, on an age contrast? How charismatic will the Democrats’ VP pick be, how knowledgeable, how popular, how moderate? McCain will know the answer to those questions by the time he makes his choice public.

Most recent VP headlines:

  • August 8th: When the veepstakes start to get a little old
  • August 3rd: Speculation on timing and a new name in the GOP veepstakes
  • July 29th: Kaine rising and Clinton fading
  • July 27th: Veepstakes are entering their last stretch

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VP Watch: When the veepstake game starts to get a little old

The convention starts on August 25th - two days after the Olympics, and the Monday after next - making it very likely (if not certain) that Obama’s pick will be announced early next week. But the veepstakes have drawn on for so long now that the speculation game is starting to get a bit old. In fact, we are even starting to get actual hints as to whom the candidates might pick - especially on the Democratic side!

For one, John Edwards disappeared from the list of potential Obama picks last week - and was followed today (albeit in very different circumstances) by Mark Warner. The former Virginia Governor was not considered to be part of the top-tier since he is running for Senate, but Marc Ambinder reported today that Warner was very seriously considered by Obama’s team and that they insisted that he submit vetting documents - something Warner resisted, joining Ted Strickland and Jim Webb on the list of high-profile Democrats who ruled themselves out.

Warner’s selection as the keynote speaker has led many to speculate that Tim Kaine’s standing has decreased under the theory that Obama will not want to have that Virginia-heavy a convention. (While Warner will probably not have the Tuesday primetime slot, a Kaine pick would mean that two of the three important Tuesday-Wednesday speeches would come from Virginians.) But I am not so sure of that: Obama is really committed to VA, and understandably so given that it is difficult to imagine Obama losing the election if he wins this state. If a Warner and Kaine double-header could move some numbers, why would Democrats not go there? And the news that Obama vetters were looking into picking Warner confirms how interested they are in the Old Dominion and makes Kaine an obvious replacement.

Two other hints have emerged from the convention chatter. First, Wednesday - the day the VP will pick - will be devoted to security themes, which many are taking as a sign that the VP will be someone with strong national security credentials (Reed, Biden, Nunn rather than Kaine, Sebelius). The second hint is the release of the names of Tuesday speakers, the argument being that the names that are being scheduled in on Tuesday are not being considered as potential vice-presidents. Besides Hillary Clinton and Warner, the names include: Kathleen Sebelius, Brian Schweitzer, Janet Napolitano, Ed Rendell. It does not include Tim Kaine, Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, Wesley Clark and Chet Edwards.

None of this, of course, is particularly convincing. It cannot be that difficult for convention planners to replace Sebelius in the Tuesday line-up if she is tapped as VP. But these convention hints are as tangible objects of speculation as we have had throughout the veepstakes. Note that Bayh has been attracting some negative attention over the past few days and that his stock might be plummeting. The New York Times’s article on Bayh’s VP prospects highlighted his involvement in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which he co-chaired with John McCain and Joe Lieberman. And a group of liberal bloggers are organizing on Facebook to protest a potential Bayh pick.

More importantly, I noted this morning that Obama’s latest ad would not be running in Indiana and Georgia, two red states Obama usually targets - suggesting that his campaign was no longer looking at the state as a key battleground and thus perhaps no longer considering Bayh as a potential VP pick (the same argument could be made about Sam Nunn and Georgia). Only Joe Biden’s stock seems to be unaffected by all these hints.

As for Republicans, McCain has a bit more time than his opponent and his choice might be informed by Obama’s. But that does not mean that we are not getting hints about the GOP veepstakes. For one, Rob Portman - who many included in McCain’s short list - said that he is not being vetted. If true, that would shrink the number of top-tier GOPers even further and would be somewhat of a surprise given how much his name has been floated over the past few months.

Second, some names that had previously been dismissed because they were not deemed conservative enough are back in the chatter. McCain told the Weekly Standard today that Tom Ridge is not disqualified by his pro-choice views - bringing up the name of the former Pennsylvania Governor voluntarily: “Tom Ridge is one of the great leaders and he happens to be pro-choice. And I don’t think that that would necessarily rule Tom Ridge out.” He compared Ridge’s chances to those of Mike Bloomberg in terms that appear to strike down the possibility that McCain pick the New York Mayor: “Bloomberg is pro-gay rights, pro, you know, a number of other issues.”

The other name that is coming up again these days is Joe Lieberman. The Connecticut Senator has always been mentioned as a potential pick - and one McCain would love to make - but one that he might not dare to. Lieberman is too liberal on a number of issues for that choice to go well with conservative activists, after all. But Lieberman is becoming an increasingly vocal critic of Obama - making noise yesterday for suggesting that he does not put his country first - and McCain said today that he would send Lieberman (and Lindsay Graham) off to Georgia.

That gets us to the following exhaustive list of everyone who could conceivably end on the tickets. The top-tier at this point is reserved for those names that are fully expected; the second-tier for names that have been discussed at length over the past few weeks but that have faded a bit in the final stretch; and the long shots are names that have been mentioned but that would be very unexpected. For Republicans:

  • Top-tier: Crist, Pawlenty, Romney
  • Second-tier: Fiorina, Jindal, Lieberman, Palin, Portman, Ridge, Sanford, Thune, Whitman
  • Long shots: Bloomberg, Cantor, Cox, Graham, Huckabee, Hutchinson, Kasich, Perdue, Fred Smith, Snow

And for Democrats:

  • Top-tier: Biden, Kaine, Bayh
  • Second-tier: Clark, Clinton, Dashle, Dodd, Chet Edwards, Hagel, Nunn, Reed, Richardson, Sebelius (the latter is hovering between the first and second tiers)
  • Long shots: Bloomberg, Casey, Jones, McCaskill, Napolitano, Bill Nelson, Rendell, Schweitzer, Veneman

Most recent VP headlines:

  • August 3rd: Speculation on timing and a new name in the GOP veepstakes
  • July 29th: Kaine rising and Clinton fading
  • July 27th: Veepstakes are entering their last stretch

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VP Watch: Timing speculation and a new name in GOP veepstakes

We are now five days from the Olympics’ opening ceremony, and still no sign from either of the presidential campaigns that they are ready to announce their vice-presidential picks. If they do not announce their running-mate in the next 48 to 72 hours, they will have to wait for the Olympics’ hype to decrease a bit before any announcement.

That would mean that both campaigns would have voluntarily given up a chance to roll out their vice-presidential nominees at a time they would easily grab all the headlines and own the news cycle and both would set themselves up for complicated PR maneuvers if they want to get significant media coverage. The Obama campaign would be forced to announce its pick during the Olympics (the Democratic convention starts soon after the closing ceremony) and the McCain campaign would have to announce either during the Olympics or the day after Obama’s acceptance speech - in both cases forcing them to compete with other major story lines.

Announcing in the next two days could be especially helpful for the Obama campaign. For the first time of the general election campaign, they lost control of their message last week and were on the defensive. Racial issues are now moving to the front of the political conversation - and everyday that happens is a potential disaster for Obama. The vice-presidential pick could allow Democrats to take back control of the campaign narrative, move on from the distractions of the past week (the German troop visit, the celebrity ad, the race card) and own the week leading up to the Olympics.

Yet, the campaign doesn’t seem as ready to make its pick as we assumed last week, when speculation was mounting that both campaigns were reaching the final stages of their decision-making processes and that the Obama campaign had narrowed its list to a few names, including Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. Now, The Washington Post reports that Obama’s vetting process might not be as advanced as we previously thought and that Obama’s much-publicized three hour meetings with his vetting staff was not meant to come to a final decision, and that the list Obama is playing with is longer than thought.

In other words, it is not yet down to Kaine, Evan Bayh, Kathleen Sebelius and Joe Biden - other names are still in the running. If anything, Kaine might have hurt his chances last week by allowing as many leaks as he did. (One name that does not appear to be making it to the final round is Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. She had already said last week that she was not being vetted by the campaign - and she repeated that again today.)

On the Republican side, the veepstakes have always centered on a shorter list of names though speculation reached feverish pitch last week - though we still haven’t gotten a decision. Often mentioned, Bobby Jindal’s youth has long made him an unlikely pick - how could McCain attack Obama’s inexperience if he deems Jindal to be qualified enough? Now, conservative activists are organizing a push to convince the McCain campaign to make Jindal the keynote speaker at the GOP convention. That this is now the focus of many on the Right confirms that Jindal is no longer in the veepstakes’ top-tier and that floating his name might have been a way for the campaign to win the good will of conservatives. It also confirms that Jindal is a name we will hear again in the coming years and most probably in a future presidential election.

Meanwhile, a new name appeared this week in the Republican veepstakes: Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, the third-in-command in the GOP’s House caucus and a prominent Jewish Republican. Politico reported that Cantor was being vetted and had submitted documents to the McCain campaign. This is the kind of veepstakes news of which it is very difficult to know what to make. Cantor has a very conservative profile, and right-wing blogs like Red State were clearly excited about his inclusion. So is McCain seriously considering picking Cantor, or has his name been leaked to the media in the last stages of the veepstakes to reassure conservatives that their wishes are under consideration and that one of their own made it very far?

This is not just an empty reassurance, after all. Even if someone is not picked after making it to the short list, his national profile is increased to such a degree that he or she is certain to play a prominent role in future election years. That Jindal was played up so much by the McCain campaign is now giving him a shot at the keynote spot and places him as a key player in conservative circles. This speculation could do the same for Cantor. Even if McCain selects a vice-president towards which conservatives are less sympathetic - Charlie Crist, even Tim Pawlenty or Mitt Romney - they could still be grateful that McCain raised the profile of Republicans they like.

This is not to say that Cantor could not be actually selected. In fact, John McCain could be better served choosing a running-mate that was not expected and that could provide some energy to his campaign. Pawlenty and Romney might be great fits for McCain in other presidential years, but this year the Senator is playing catch-up and might be better served picking someone like Cantor, who could energize the base while also giving McCain an opportunity to make some major inroads in the Jewish community - especially now that Florida is back in the toss-up column.

Most recent VP headlines:


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VP watch: Speculation rises about Obama’s short list, with Kaine rising and Clinton fading

The Olympics are approaching and the veepstakes speculation is reaching feverish pitch. That is somewhat paradoxical as some indicators over the past two days have been suggesting that both candidates are considering waiting a bit more to announce their picks after all and try to break through during the Olympics.

There is of course a clear risk to doing so: Any high-profile announcement could be drowned by news from China. But postponing the decision also makes sense for both candidates: Obama is planning on taking a week long break in Hawaii. Announcing his vice-presidential pick just before he departs would allow his running-mate to take center stage for a few day. As for McCain, he would be giving up a key weapon (more control of timing) if he were to hurry into a choice.

That said, other indicators suggest that Obama and McCain are very near to making a choice and that they have significantly narrowed their list. Sources in the McCain world have long been saying that the campaign has already completed a lot of its vetting and McCain has all the information to make up its mind whenever he wants. Yesterday, Obama met with most of his advisers and with his vetting team for more than 3 hours - quite an extended period of time to take off the campaign trail if it is not intended to resolve a number of issues and get closer to a decision.

More detailed speculation over the past 48 hours has concentrated on the Democratic side and on Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. Not one but two articles were published in the past 24 hours - one yesterday afternoon in Politico and one this morning in the Washington Post - that described Kaine as being “very, very, very high on Obama’s short list” based on numerous interviews with people close to Obama’s campaign and members of Kaine’s entourage. Both Politico and The Post are well-sourced and well-connected and that they would both publish such an article within hours of each other speaks to the sure fact that Kaine is one of the finalists.

This morning, both Obama and Kaine were in Washington DC, prompting speculation that a meeting had been organized between the two Democrats. (Think about that: Obama had a three hour VP meeting yesterday and might have met with one of his top choices less than a day later.) Kaine was one of the earliest Obama endorsers, and did so long before Obama had really broken through in his match-up against Hillary Clinton. Kaine and Obama are not only personally close, but Kaine embodies as close to post-partisanship a management style as Obama could want.

However, both articles make it clear that Kaine’s being subjected to intense vetting means he has reached the final stages of the veepstakes, not that he is the only one there. While Politico has a few sources in hte Obama world, most of these leaks are coming from the Kaine camp, which explains why the stories are so fixated on one name. In fact, Marc Ambinder thinks that the outstanding level of buzz generated by leaks from the Kaine entourage are hurting the Virginia Governor compared to other contenders that aren’t leaking information. Politico’s report cites Joe Biden, Kathleen Sebelius and Sam Nunn; Marc Ambinder is hearing the most buzz about Kaine, Biden, Sebelius and Evan Bayh. This testifies to the stamp Obama wants to leave on the party, as all these names but Biden’s embody a similar post-partisanship positioning.

Of the top-tier of Democratic contenders, two names are missing in this latest round of speculation: Chris Dodd and Hillary Clinton. In fact, Clinton’s star is decidedly fading. It was always clear that Obama did not want to pick his former rival and that he would only do so if polls indicated he had not succeeded in capturing Clinton’s electorate. While he does still have some trouble securing the Democratic base and there are still signs of discontent between the two camps, the problems do not seem to be wide-ranging enough for Obama to be forced to do something he does not want to do.

Declarations made by Terry McAuliffe (as faithful a Clinton supporter as any) in recent days seemed to confirm that Clinton was not at the top of Obama’s list: McAuliffe declared Kaine would be his pick for VP and he suggested Clinton was planning on speaking Tuesday night at the convention - a day earlier than the running-mate will. The New York Times’s Adam Nagourney hardened the conventional wisdom yesterday with an article detailing the “mounting evidence” that Clinton is not being seriously considered by the Obama campaign.

In fact, the Obama campaign might need to prepare itself to not enjoy a bounce when it selects the Democratic nominee if he/she is not Hillary. Once Clinton supporters realize that their former champion will not be on the ballot, a small number might temporarily withdraw its support for Obama in anger. I am not suggesting that this would be a lasting move or that Obama stands to , but that the temporary effects of the first impression (which is what a bounce is, after all) might be less positive than they would otherwise be because of this.

On the Republican side, the conventional wisdom is still fixated on a two-way race between Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty and . That has been the consensus for many weeks now, and John Thune’s declaring a few days ago that he had not been asked to submit vetting documents shrunk the number of Republicans capable of contesting that even further (if Thune is telling the truth, that is). Over the past 48 hours, Pawlenty has gotten a lot more favorable press while Romney was hit this morning by a Washington Times article reiterating that a number of evangelicals are warning against a McCain-Romney ticket.

Of course, we already know that a Romney pick could lead many conservatives to grumble, but that is not a welcome reminder at this crucial time in the veepstakes. In fact, campaigns routinely float trial names around to see the type of reception it will get and how interest groups will react; the strongly negative reactions sparked by Ann Veneman’s name circulating, for instance, are bound to have an effect. In fact, a new name was just added to the Republican veepstakes: Fed Ex executive Fred Smith, whose name started circulating yesterday with odd timing. The perfect example of a trial balloon?

I dropped three names from the top-tier since yesterday (Thune, Edwards and Clinton) and added to the long-shot list. That gets us to the following new exhaustive list for Republicans:

  • Top-tier: Crist, Portman, Pawlenty, Romney
  • Second-tier: Fiorina, Jindal, Palin, Ridge, Sanford, Thune, Whitman
  • Long shots: Bloomberg, Cantor, Cox, Graham, Huckabee, Hutchinson, Kasich, Lieberman, Perdue, Fred Smith, Snowe

And for Democrats:

  • Top-tier: Bayh, Biden, Dodd, Kaine, Nunn, Reed, Sebelius
  • Second-tier: Casey, Clark, Clinton, Dashle, Chet Edwards, John Edwards, Hagel, Rendell, Richardson,
  • Long shots: Bloomberg, Jones, McCaskill, Napolitano, Bill Nelson, Schweitzer, Veneman, Warner

Most recent VP headlines:

  • July 27th: Veepstakes are entering their last stretch
  • July 18th: Is Chet Edwards joining the top-tier, and who is McCain vetting?
  • July 11th: A pointer on the Democratic veeptakes
  • July 7th double-shocker: Webb’s stunning exit and Crist’s marriage
  • All coverage for Democrats and Republicans

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Veepstakes are entering their last stretch

The Olympic Games start on August 8th. That means that Barack Obama and John McCain are likely to announce their running-mates some time in the the next 10 days… While McCain could also wait after the Olympics and unveil his pick the day after Obama’s acceptance speech (which would be three days before the start of the GOP convention), most recent indicators have suggested that the Republican’s campaign is too worried about Obama monopolizing media coverage to let him have the 12 days leading up to the Olympics all to himself.

And there indeed has been a lot of speculation recently over the timing of McCain’s pick. Robert Novak reported that McCain was thinking of announcing his decision this past week to steal the headlines away from Obama’s trip, and that set off a flurry of articles (despite Novak’s quickly declaring that he felt he had been used). News that McCain’s was to travel to Louisiana last Wednesday and meet with Governor Bobby Jindal led to intense rumors, though McCain canceled his trip when bad weather ruined his plans to visit an oil rig.

Other events of this past week that have sparked a lot of talk: McCain telling an audience that they would like Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney declaring he would not seek donations to repay the $45 millions he donated to his own primary campaign, ensuring that his entourage is focused on helping the McCain campaign if he is chosen.

The most meaningful and trustworthy piece of information, however, came from McCain adviser Charlie Black, who declared that the campaign had done enough vetting for McCain to make up his mind whenever he wants to. This might be a way for the McCain campaign to remain the center of attention, but it is also correct: McCain’s announcement could come anytime in the next 10 days - and we can’t even be sure the campaign will not ultimately decide to wait for August 29th and try to cut Obama’s post-convention bounce. The latest rumor is that McCain will announce his pick… tomorrow.

The same is true of Obama’s pick. The campaign could announce at the beginning of this week to try and own the news cycle for a second week in a row; or it could leave time for the international trip to sink in and then follow it up by an announcement at the beginning of next week. At this point, the odds are that Obama will announce his pick first because McCain can afford to wait and there is an advantage to be gained from knowing your opponent’s decision before finalizing yours.

For once, there has been much less speculation about the Democratic veepstakes than the Republican one over the past week. But with the political world looking at Obama’s trip overseas, Senator Jack Reed (who was traveling with Obama, along with Chuck Hagel) attracted considerable attention. A late-comer to the Democratic veepstakes, Reed has strong national security credentials, has traveled numerous times to Iraq and voted no to the 2002 war resolution.

One drawback of picking him is that the Rhode Island Governor is a Republican. The only solution for Reed could be to withdraw his Senate candidacy (he is up for re-election this year), but that would mean he would be out of a job if Obama were to lose. Perhaps due to this possibility, Reed offered an almost Shermanesque statement yesterday: “I am interested in serving in the United States Senate and that interest trumps any consideration of serving as a vice president,” he said. When asked whether that means he would decline the position if asked, he replied: “Yeah, but I frankly I don’t expect to be offered the position.” That “but” is a key word here, as it allows Reed to say he had not thought about it if he changes his mind. Webb and Strickland used no “buts” when they ruled themselves out.

Another name that has sparked specuation on the Democratic side is Bush’s first Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, a Republican. Politico reported that Obama’s vetters had mentioned her name in talks with members of Congress; the article quotes sources that frame a Veneman pick as a post-partisan decision (what else?) that would seduce independents. Veneman, who now serves as the executive director of UNICEF, was described by Politico as “close to food and agriculture industries” and in clashes “with farm-state Democrats and environmentalists.” In fact, North Dakota Democratic Senator Kent Conrad had called for her dismissal in 2004.

This is not the ideal profile of a Democratic vice-president, not to mention that it would be much more difficult for Obama to argue that McCain is running for Bush’s third term if he himself has picked a former member of Bush’s Cabinet. Putting the premium on post-partisanship to the exclusion of other values and indicators would make many Democrats uncomfortable with the ticket and muddy Obama’s message rather than reinforce it. In fact, CQ now notes that Veneman’s name is already attracting fire from congressional Democrats and even a Republican. [Update: The Nation quickly goes on the offensive and blasts Veneman in a long article that denounces her as a "uniquely awful choice."]

One final note on the Democratic veepstakes: Both Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill told reporters this past week that they were not being vetted and had not been asked to submit any documents. If they are telling the truth, they can both be taken out of the veepstakes; it is getting late for Obama to be asking new people to submit documents. Rendell followed up his declaration by launching into an explanation of why he should not be chosen, lauding Obama’s “good sense” for not considering him!

That gets us to the following exhaustive list of potential VP picks, divided into the top-tier, a second-tier and long shots. For Republicans, that gets us:

  • Top-tier: Charlie Crist, Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, John Thune
  • Second-tier: Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Sarah Palin, Tom Ridge, Mark Sanford, Meg Whitman
  • Long shots: Michael Bloomberg, Eric Cantor, Chris Cox, Lindsay Graham, Mike Huckabee, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, John Kasich, Joe Lieberman, Beverly Perdue, Olympia Snowe

And for Democrats:

  • Top-tier: Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Tim Kaine, Sam Nunn, Jack Reed, Kathleen Sebelius
  • Second-tier: Bob Casey, Wesley Clark, Tom Dashle, Chuck Hagel, Ed Rendell, Bill Richardson,
  • Long shots: Michael Bloomberg, Chet Edwards, Jim Jones, Claire McCaskill, Janet Napolitano, Bill Nelson, Brian Schweitzer, Ann Veneman, Mark Warner

Most recent VP headlines:

  • July 18th: Is Chet Edwards joining the top-tier, and who is McCain vetting?
  • July 11th: A pointer on the Democratic veeptakes
  • July 7th double-shocker: Webb’s stunning exit and Crist’s marriage
  • July 1st: Romney’s fundraising potential and the emergence of Thune and Portman
  • All coverage for Democrats and Republicans

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VP Watch: Is Chet Edwards joining the top tier, and who is McCain vetting?

With Barack Obama and his press court embarking on their European and Middle Eastern trip next week, the Democratic vice-presidential announcement cannot happen before the first week of August at the earliest. If Obama delays the announcement, he will be competing for attention with the Olympics. But whatever he does, one thing is clear: time is pressing and the Obama campaign at this point ought to be in the vetting process of anyone it is seriously considering.

Last time we checked, Joe Biden was the one Democrat in the top-tier who was not getting vetted. No new information suggests that he now is or isn’t, but the Delaware Senator is certainly doing what he can to highlight the advantages he would bring to the ticket. The first, of course, is his national security expertise and his comfort with talking about any issue related to Iraq and Iran. The second is his prodigious ability to go on the attack and make it seem effortless (we all remember Biden’s one-liner on Giuliani: “a noun, a verb and 9/11″), a talent which in my view greatly outweighs his tendency to put his foot in his mouth.

This week, Biden rushed to Obama’s rescue by writing an open letter to Sen. De Mint, defending Obama from the charge that he hasn’t held a hearing about Afghanistan in the Foreign Relations subcommittee:

As you are aware, under my chairmanship the Foreign Relations Committee has addressed most Afghanistan issues at the full committee level. I believe that this is the best way of ensuring the most comprehensive examination of the complex issues involved, and of ensuring the highest-level Administration participation. …

Sen. Obama has displayed great leadership on this issue: he called nearly a year ago for the deployment of at least two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan — it has since become the accepted position of a wide range of U.S. military officials, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Keep in mind that Biden is also campaigning to be Obama’s Secretary of State, so he will certainly put all his energy in the Democrat’s presidential effort in the months ahead.

More surprising is the intrusion of Texas Rep. Chet Edwards in the veepstakes. Nancy Pelosi and Patrick Kennedy both recommended Edwards over the past few weeks, surprising many who had not thought of this conservative Democrat, whose district includes Bush’s Crawford ranch. Edwards chairs the veterans benefit committee, which Obama could use to his advantage in the fight against McCain. Now, the speculation has unexpectedly increased as Edwards refused to comment on whether he had talked to the Illinois Senator’s camp about the veep job.

“I wish I could say more… Any questions about the vice presidential process should be directed to the Obama campaign,” Edwards said, in an answer that echoed Gov. Sebelius’s comment that “any discussion about this process is being done by the campaign itself.” Sebelius’s implicit response that she was not allowed to answer was taken a sign she was being in the vetting process. Edwards’s comment suggests the same.

Other Democratic veepstakes news include Al Gore, who quite firmly insisted today that he would not take the vice-presidential job, and Evan Bayh and Sam Nunn (perhaps the two most centrist/right-wing Democrats on Obama’s top-list). Both Bayh and Nunn joined Obama on a panel to discuss the security challenges America faces, an event that seemed designed to encourage vice-presidential speculations! Nunn, in particular, is a hot prospect because of the national security gravitas he could bring to the ticket.

On the GOP side, there is less speculation going around, first of all because McCain has more time to announce his pick and thus isn’t as pressed to finish the vetting process. But while the Mitt-Romney-is-the-favorite CW is hardened by the New York Times, we do have two points of discussion regarding top prospects.

First, John Thune (who Politico recently included in the top-three of McCain’s short list) told CQ that he was not being vetted: “”If I’m getting vetted, I don’t know about it,” he said. Second, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has changed his tune when asked whether he was being vetted. One of the two most-often mentioned Republicans, Pawlenty had surprised many last week when he said he had not been asked to submit vetting documents. Well, no longer.

Most recent VP headlines:

  • July 11th: A pointer on the Democratic veeptakes
  • July 7th double-shocker: Webb’s stunning exit and Crist’s marriage
  • July 1st: Romney’s fundraising potential and the emergence of Thune and Portman
  • June 28: Ridge hit by lobbying ties, NRO expands veto, Jones returns
  • All coverage for Democrats and Republicans

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Obama will travel to Iraq with Hagel and Reed

After days of speculation, the news was confirmed today: Barack Obama will travel to Iraq and Afghanistan accompanied with Republican Senator Chuck Hagel and Democratic Senator Jack Reed.

Hagel has not (yet?) endorsed Obama, but he has also pointedly refused to support the campaign of his longtime friend John McCain. Obama’s choice to travel with Hagel is first of all Obama’s effective response to McCain’s association with Joe Lieberman. Even if Hagel does not officially endorse the Illinois Senator, Obama’s campaign knows that he would be a very effective voice if he were to defend the Democrat’s national security credentials — and perhaps even offer the media some scathing soundbites regarding McCain’s Iraq plan.

Hagel would be an especially powerful spokesperson on Iraq because of how unlikely a candidate he is for such a role. Besides being the Republican Senator most critical of the Iraq War, Hagel has a very conservative voting record, putting him in a very different position than a politician like Zell Miller who had always been known as a conservative Democrat.

This leads to an obvious question: Does this mean that Hagel is under consideration to be Obama’s vice-presidential pick? I remain skeptical of that possibility. As anti-war as Hagel has become, he remains a very conservative politician and is miles away from acceptable Democratic positions on a whole range of issues — starting with abortion (TNR points out that he has a zero rating with NARAL and argues that he would surely have voted in favor of the Medicare bill earlier this week if he wanted to be considered). Given that the Clinton-Obama reconciliation process has not gone as smoothly as it could have, will Obama take the risk of angering woman and pro-choice groups?

In fact, Obama choosing Jack Reed is as significant as the selection of Chuck Hagel — and could end up a more significant development in the veepstakes. If Obama is looking for a Senator with foreign affairs expertise and does not want to go with Joe Biden (who said this week that he was not being vetted…), Jack Reed could be a very viable possibility. And Reed did vote against the Iraq War resolution back in 2002, something Obama argued throughout the primaries was an essential test of judgment.

Overall, Obama’s two choices are clearly meant to make his trip appear less political and he chose Hagel and Reed rather than, say, Biden and Clark to discourage veep speculation and add gravitas to the trip. Obama is aware that the GOP will be looking to criticize his days in Iraq as a political stunt. By choosing Hagel and Reed, Obama is ensuring that his trip is taken as a serious commitment to reevaluate possible exit strategies based on careful assessments of the conditions on the ground.

That Obama will receive advice as to how he should assess what he is seeing around him from a Senator of the opposite party who has not even endorsed him will allow the Obama campaign to present their candidate as freed from ideological constraints — a theme that has long been at the center of Obama’s candidacy.

As a closing note, some speculation about the future of Hagel’s counterpart Joe Lieberman: While no definite plans have been leaked, it has long been rumored that Lieberman would address the GOP convention in St. Paul in early September. This has led liberal activists to up their pressure on the Senate leadership to dump Lieberman from the caucus and strip him of his chairmanship. Robert Novak now reports that Lieberman would be sure of being kicked out of the Democratic caucus if he does indeed address the GOP convention. That would mean that Democrats need… 10 seats to reach a filibuster-proof (as if 9 wasn’t hard enough).


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A pointer on the Democratic veepstakes

My most recent post about the Democratic veepstakes generated some passionate discussion about who Barack Obama should pick, which made me think it was time for a pointer on the Dem VP watch: Who’s in, who’s out and who is in between.

The Democratic veepstakes have generated considerably more buzz than the Republican ones. Not only will he surely announce first, but Obama’s search also seems more open than McCain’s more conventional list. The fact that two Democrats who were at the top of the list of possible Obama picks (Jim Webb and Ted Strickland) ruled themselves out in the past month made the Democratic veepstakes even more unpredictable by removing 2 of the 4-5 favorites. Now, speculation is increasing about which candidates are being asked for their vetting documents and which are being left out in the cold:

  • Kathleen Sebelius pretty clearly implied that she was being vetted, which is not at all a surprise considering that she is one of the last favorites-from-day-one remaining with Webb and Strickland out. And don’t forget how much positive stuff Obama has been saying about Sebelius lately.
  • Chris Dodd also announced — in even clearer terms — that he was in the vetting process: “There’s been some inquiries, yeah. They ask for a lot of stuff. I’ll leave it there.” This is more of a surprise to me as Dodd was never part of the top-tier, in particular since a controversy broke about his mortgage term, and because the list of people who are being vetted is never that large.
  • Another former presidential candidate, Joe Biden, told CQ that he has not been asked for financial documents. If that is true and if it remains that way, it could mean Biden is less of a favorite than I thought and might not go as far as predicted — though the Senator could either be lying (potential picks are not supposed to talk to much about the discussions they are having, after all) or the call might not yet have come.
  • Finally, there is the Hillary Clinton question: Howard Wolfson said that “as far as I know” Clinton was not being formally vetted though he said that it might not be necessary to make Clinton go through that formal a process considering that so much about her is already in the public record (including her tax documents). Of coure, there is no guarantee whatsoever that Clinton would have told Wolfson if she were being vetted.

That gets us to the following exhaustive list of potential VP picks, divided into the top-tier (largely defined as anyone who is being vetted or who is a strong possibility), long shots and those who have ruled themselves out:

  • Top-tier: Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Bob Casey, Wesley Clark, Hillary Clinton, Tom Dashle, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Tim Kaine, Sam Nunn, Ed Rendell, Bill Richardson, Kathleen Sebelius
  • Long-shots: Michael Bloomberg, Chet Edwards (he does have House supporters…), Al Gore, Jim Jones (who is he even supporting?), Chuck Hagel, Claire McCaskill, Janet Napolitano, Bill Nelson, Jack Reed, Brian Schweitzer, Mark Warner (who would definitely be part of the top-tier were he not running for Senate).
  • Ruled themselves out: Ted Strickland, Jim Webb

Anyone I have forgotten? So how would that 13-member top tier break down? Based entirely on the often-mistaken prevailing conventional wisdom, I would propose (in rough order of likelihood) the following top 4: Kathleen Sebelius, Tim Kaine, Joe Biden, Evan Bayh.

Note that two of these names (Bayh and Kaine) would result in the GOP picking-up a Democratic seat, though the Indiana governorship might change hands in November. Is that a risk Obama is willing to take? These four names are safer than the rest of the list, which is full of question marks: Did Clark’s recent declarations on McCain’s VP record rule him out in Obama’s eyes? Is Obama really considering Hillary Clinton — and does he think that he needs to? Is Bob Casey too bad a campaigner? Does Obama’s camp think Edwards could do a better job than 4 years ago? What about Rendell’s tendency to drift off-message? Sam Nunn’s justifiably gigantic problems with the Left? How could Dashle possibly portray a message of change, and would two minorities on the ticket if Obama picks Richardson not be too much for some voters to be comfortable with?

The Clinton question is particularly fascinating: does lead to a question: The reconciliation process could be going more smootly, but Obama does not seem to have as huge a unification problem as some thought he might have a few months ago. What gives? And even if Obama has decided he will not tap his former rival, why would he not at least go through the process of formally vetting Clinton (and leaking that info) to at least give the impression he is considering her? After all, the vetting process is a way to tout some names that aren’t truly being considered. Does this mean that the Obama campaign is more worried about the impression Hillary was seriously considered but not selected (which could be interpreted as an even harsher rebuke that she is not the best) than the impression that she was not considered at all?

Most recent VP headlines:

  • July 7th double-shocker: Webb’s stunning exit and Crist’s marriage
  • July 1st: Romney’s fundraising potential and the emergence of Thune and Portman
  • June 28: Ridge hit by lobbying ties, NRO expands veto, Jones returns
  • June 24: Biden, Sebelius and Crist campaigning more or less overtly
  • All coverage for Democrats and Republicans


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  • All good things must come to an end

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    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • What remains on the table

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Confusion in Connecticut (Updated)

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Results thread, part 2: Dems suffer staggering losses in House and legislatives races, limit damage in statewide races

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election Night results thread: Rep. Boucher’s fall first surprise of the night

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election night cheat sheet

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Final ratings: Democrats brace for historic losses

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • What to watch for down-ballot

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EST/-5.0/no DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

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