Veepstakes Revisited

While we at America were having trouble with our server, we began a Veepstakes wherein, I suggested that Sen. Jim Webb would be a great vice-presidential candidate for Barack Obama. I invited readers to send other suggestions to I have received a few replies and will discuss the suggestions in subsequent posts. Today, I nominate my leading candidate for John McCain’s running mate: Sen. Sam Brownback. And, again, I invite other nominations from the floor of America readers. McCain’s challenge in choosing a running mate could scarcely be greater. He has to appeal to the conservative base which has heretofore been lukewarm (at best) to his candidacy. Spokespeople for the conservatives from Mary Matalin to Pat Buchanan have insisted that they need to hear a name that makes them say, "Okay, McCain gets it!" But, he also has to maintain his appeal to moderate swing voters who like McCain maverick streak. It is especially critical that he appeal to Catholic swing voters in places like Macomb County, Michigan and Naples, Florida and suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Brownback is a true blue conservative, but like Ronald Reagan, he lacks the snarling, hectoring tone of Buchanan. His conservatism is optimistic, family-friendly, and rooted in his Christian beliefs. Brownback’s Christian beliefs went through a thorough examination in midlife when he converted to Catholicism. People who convert in midlife, especially politicians who undertake such an intimate process, do so because they are driven to, or called to. There is nothing inauthentic about Sam Brownback’s faith-filled conservatism. Like McCain, Brownback is not a rightwing crazy on immigration reform a la Tom Tancredo. There were points during the GOP debates where the immigrant-bashing stepped over the line into race-baiting. But McCain and Brownback were always quick to remind their interlocutors that immigrants were children of God also. McCain’s toughest challenge in the next couple of months is to appease the conservative base without alienating Latinos, who delivered 44 percent of their votes for George W. Bush in 2004. An important essay in yesterday’s Washington Post showed why many Latino evangelicals (and there are LOTS of Latino evangelicals) were leaning towards the Democrats this year. Having a running mate who has supported humane immigration reform while maintaining otherwise sterling conservative credentials will be invaluable to McCain. The other huge challenge for McCain is to find someone considerably younger. He is 71 and would be the oldest man elected to the office. Brownback is only 51 years old. His youthfulness comes to the aid of his cheerfulness in softening his conservatism. If all that were not enough, Brownback’s homestate of Kansas is looking a little purple. Their Democrat Governor, Kathleen Sibelius, was a strong supporter of Barack Obama who crushed Hillary Clinton in the state’s caucuses which also delivered a lopsided victory to Mike Huckabee. The six electoral votes Kansas has might not seem like a lot, but after 2000, we all know that small differences can make a huge difference in a close election. Michael Sean Winters
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10 years 9 months ago
One could only wish that the selection of the VP candidate were returned to the people. Given that so many VP's follow the boss into the White House (almost all of them are the next choice in the election) it's too important an office to leave in the hands of the presidential candidates and their assistants.


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