Thursday, March 13, 2008

How to Introduce a Running Mate

The American Spectator's Quinn Hillyer's column this morning focuses not so much on the who of vice presidential nominee selections, for John McCain, but the how. Hillyer has previously done a column on who might make a good selection, and determined that SEC Chair and former California Congressman Christopher Cox would be the top choice according to the criteria he had outlined.

"If one accepts that John McCain should pick a running mate with serious Reaganite credentials, the ability to step into the Oval Office at a moment's notice if necessary (Lord forbid), and the ability to make the ticket at least competitive in a state, region, or constituency that otherwise might be off limits to a Republican, the question then becomes how his campaign should go about making the choice and introducing him to the nation."

He recommends introducing the candidate to the nation much the same way Chief Justice John Roberts was before his confirmation to the Supreme Court. One of his earlier criteria for a selection was someone without heavy political baggage on the national level. McCain's campaign would therefore have the ability to "shape the narrative" for the public. He also recommends the campaign conduct a focus group study of the top possibilities (after the requisite FBI background check) to "prequalify" the selection as much as possible, and to then introduce the candidate in a familiar setting, such as his home state.

As Hillyer points out, with the nomination sewed up and the Democrats current focus on each other, the McCain campaign has the luxury of time to do make the selection and carefully setting the nominee's introduction. He also notes the bigggest factor of the choice is what it tells us about McCain himself - what does he value, what attributes does he seek? The selection is tremendously important as it could go a long way toward getting McCain elected.

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