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Clinton running tough, flawless campaign

By By Steve Flowers
Even though Barack Obama is giving Hillary Clinton a challenge in the democratic race it appears that she will be tough to beat. She has been the favorite since the beginning and she is not faltering. She is running a flawless campaign. It has been a two person race for at least six months and Obama is the only threat for an upset. It appears that the rest of the field is simply posturing in hopes that she will pick one of them as her running mate. Therefore, the big question looming is will she pick Obama as her vice presidential running mate?
Most experts believe that Obama is running to run again. He is by far the youngest in the field. His lack of experience is his only deterrent. He would take the V.P. bid if offered. Obama plans to be the democratic nominee after Hillary. Therefore the vice presidency would make him the heir apparent in eight years if she wins and the frontrunner in four years if she loses.
So the million dollar question is can the democrats afford to have a ticket made up of a woman and an African American? It would be a bold move to say the least. A woman and an African American as a presidential ticket would make history. You would put new meaning to the concept of breaking the glass ceiling.
Conventional wisdom would dictate that this is too much diversity. In most presidential races about 70% of the voters are pretty much in the barn before the race even starts. You have about 35% who will vote republican and 35% who will vote for the democratic nominee no matter who the candidates are. Therefore, the race centers on the 30% who are truly independent swing voters. These voters are identified early by polling and the campaigns are geared toward garnering their votes. It is even more magnified than that. These independent voters are more important in swing states. For instance, Kansas is a red state and will vote republican so heavily that their swing voter does not count. The same is true of New York on the democratic spectrum.
The swing states this time will be Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico in the West, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Illinois in the Midwest, and finally Florida and Ohio which are always the most pivotal and important. A ton of money will be spent courting the independent voters in these eight states. The two parties have already identified these states as pivotal. That is why the republicans have picked Minneapolis, Minnesota for their convention sight. Likewise, the democrats have selected Denver, Colorado.
These swing states will be given the same deference when it comes to picking a vice presidential running mate for Hillary. The first criteria will be who helps the ticket the most and the most important place to look is someone from one of these eight swing states. There are only two candidates in the current field that qualify and both qualify in more ways than one.
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico hails from one of the eight states and is Hispanic. His ethnicity would help in his home state and could provide the winning edge in Arizona, Colorado, and Florida. Barack Obama adds more to the ticket than Richardson. African Americans are key in the more populous swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida and most important in his home state of Illinois.
Karl Rove taught a new lesson to presidential politics when he ran both George W. Bush's campaigns. That is you not only concentrate on the independent voter but the key is to get your own base energized to get out to vote. It is a proven fact that Rove's success in getting out the white evangelical voters in rural Ohio was the reason Bush won reelection in 2004. It all boiled down to Ohio and Bush got the rural Ohioans to the polls to a degree never before seen. The urban voters in Cleveland did not perform as well.
Hillary could take a page from the Rove/Bush game plan. Obama could be the key to exciting and energizing African American voters. He is the only candidate who excites and inspires voters this year. He has charisma which Hillary lacks. The unorthodox and bold way may be the safest bet for Hillary in 2008.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama's leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.