Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Running Mate Pick: John Mccain

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Running Mate Pick: John Mccain

Article excerpt

Bob Dole could learn something useful from Bill Clinton. It has to do with how you choose a running mate. The key is to defy the old rules. Before Clinton picked Al Gore, the most sensible of those rules involved picking someone who could carry a big state. For Dole, that makes Midwestern Republican governors attractive: John Engler of Michigan, George Voinovich of Ohio, Jim Edgar of Illinois or Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin all lead states Dole needs.

Then there's the traditional balancing act: Pick someone from a different wing of the party or a different region of the country. Thus did John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts pick Lyndon Johnson of Texas. As a fallback, there is the "first, do no harm" rule. Pick a nobody because nobodies offend no one. That was Richard Nixon's rationale in picking Spiro Agnew in 1968. It's risky - Democrats won some votes with "President Agnew?" ads.

Finally, there is the high-risk strategy: Shake up the world with the "bold" choice. Colin Powell is, in principle, Dole's best option. The polls show that Powell is worth 10 or 12 points to the Republican ticket. Powell could draw at least 20 percent to 25 percent of the African-American vote to the GOP, a big blow to Clinton. He would also appeal to a broad group of moderate-to-liberal white independents and Democrats who like progressive Republicans more than Republicans do.

If Powell wanted to run, Dole could pick him and survive all the squawks from Pat Buchanan and the right-to-life movement. But face it: Powell has said no over and over. He should be taken at his word. Presidential candidates can never be seen as public beggars. If Dole made elaborate concessions ("You can be secretary of state, too"), he would look like a weak supplicant.

Next best, are those Midwestern governors, experienced and plausible all.

But there's a catch. The most probable of these candidates, Michigan's Engler, holds that status because he is opposed to abortion and is acceptable to both Pat Buchanan and the religious conservatives. But Dole, like Walter Mondale before him, will suffer if he is seen as making a choice just to appease a party constituency. One of Engler's main assets could thus become a liability. …

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