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Blunt and McCaskill for VP would strengthen candidates

Saturday, February 9, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:56 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Up for another 500 words of political conversation? I hope so, because I have a post-Super Tuesday thought (or nightmare; I’ll report and you decide).

Now that the nation’s Republicans seem intent on defying Rush Limbaugh and nominating John McCain, attention turns to the question of his vice presidential running mate. That’s especially important with a septuagenarian who may not be a true Conservative at the top of the ticket.

We’ve read the speculation that Mike Huckabee, our neighbor from Arkansas, is really running for vice president, what with his McCain-friendly attacks on Mr. Romney and his strong support in the fundamentalist precincts where Mr. McCain is weakest. But surely Senator Straight Talk won’t want to harness himself to an evolution-denier who’d bury us under a 30 percent national sales tax.

You see where this is headed. Yes, I’m wondering whether our own Boy Governor might look vice presidential to the McCain strategists. Our lad brings to the table a lot that should appeal. And he’s in the job market.

Theologically, he’s pure. Politically, he’s Huckabee without the baggage. He hasn’t freed any rapists from prison or posted any wish list of leaving-office gifts. And even though they’re not close, his daddy is at the core of the congressional camp that’s cool toward McCain. Chronologically, he’s a full generation younger than the presumptive presidential candidate. No doubt the old Navy-hand would be comfortable with a fellow Annapolis graduate.

Makes sense, don’t you think? True, there might be obstacles. Mrs. Blunt, for one. She wouldn’t move to Jeff City, after all. You may have noticed, however, that the city of Jefferson isn’t the city of Washington. My guess is that she’d adjust. Also, Matt signed on early in the primary season with a more conservative candidate. What was his name, anyway? Not a problem. Professional politicians have to have memories as short as those of relief pitchers.

McCain-Blunt. Surely it’s no weirder than, say, Bush-Quayle. That was a winner, the Bush administration that looks better in retrospect.

As long as we’re fantasizing, let’s look at the Democrats. Suppose the Obama Movement leads to the nomination, which seems a real possibility. Where did he score his big Super Tuesday upset? Our own bellwether state, of course. And who stuck her neck out, across gender and racial lines, risking her political credibility, to help him to that victory?

We’re talking vice presidents, remember. The partners who shore up a candidate’s weak points. The polls suggest that Sen. Obama seems weakest with traditional blue-collar folks, especially women. So how would he look with Claire McCaskill at his side? (And Betty McCaskill at her side.)

That’s tough-as-nails former prosecutor, former auditor, Second Amendment supporter, Red State winner, Claire.

You’ll recall that a sophisticated change-agent Democrat once before chose a junior senator from Missouri as a running mate. Truman was his name. That worked out pretty well.

Now all this is pure wild-eyed speculation, of course. It’s probably not going to happen, on either side. Still, as any baseball fan knows, February is a fine month for fantasy.

George Kennedy is a former managing editor at the Columbia Missourian and professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism.


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