Democratic 'Dream Team' Not Likely for 2008

I know it's early, but let's take a look at who might be No. 2 on the Democratic ticket in 2008.

This is not an idle discussion, because chances are that the Democrats will win and that this person could actually become the next vice president.

This discussion starts with the three current frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination, whom each might pick as his or her running mate and whom they would not pick.

Let's start with Hillary Clinton. If she is the nominee, I do not believe she would pick Barack Obama as her running mate.

Some people would consider Clinton-Obama to be the "dream team." We tried that in Texas in 2002.

That was the year Texas Democrats nominated a Hispanic, Tony Sanchez, for governor and an African-American, Ron Kirk, for the U.S. Senate.

The Texas "dream team" was designed to maximize the black and Hispanic vote and propel the ticket to victory. Minority votes did increase somewhat, but the white conservative vote went through the roof.

The "dream team" had the exact opposite effect from what was intended.

It is likely that Hillary would select a white male as her running mate, perhaps someone like former Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, former Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia or retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark.

Vilsack is a Midwesterner with proven appeal to moderate voters. Warner is a tough, smart campaigner who could help deliver Virginia, and Wes Clark's successful military career and Arkansas connections are certainly appealing.

If Obama were the Presidential nominee, chances are he also would pick a white male as his running mate. He probably would want someone who represented his same brand of new politics.

The ideal running mate for Obama would be a white Southerner, but you couldn't expect John Edwards to do that again and the party is woefully short of white Southern officeholders.

An interesting choice would be Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee. Bredesen has proven appeal to moderate and conservative voters and won in a clearly Republican-leaning state. He exudes "gravitas."

And then that brings us to John Edwards. Unlike the other two candidates, he could easily look to a minority or a woman as his running mate.

If he wanted a minority, Obama or New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Hispanic, would be possibilities.

Should he want a woman, he could look to two well-regarded women governors — Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas or Janet Napolitano of Arizona.

I doubt he would look to Hillary, and it's equally doubtful she would look to be selected.

Vice-presidential candidates are not necessarily chosen because they can bring any extra states into the victory column. (An exception was Lyndon Johnson's appeal to the South in 1960 to help John F. Kennedy.)

They are, however, chosen for general compatibility with the presidential nominee. Nor does a presidential nominee want to be overshadowed by his running mate.

We tend to forget how many vice presidents have succeeded to the presidency because of the death of a president in office, so the selection is a serious one.

The classic example of overlooking this fact was when Teddy Roosevelt was chosen to be William McKinley's running mate in 1900.

Some forces in the Republican Party wanted to get rid of the pesky New York governor by putting him in the then-powerless position of vice president. McKinley was assassinated — and Roosevelt became president.

Even if they do not ascend to the presidency, vice presidents can have an extraordinary impact. Many people justifiably believe that our disastrous Iraq strategy would not have been pursued so stubbornly or inflexibly had it not been for Dick Cheney's relentless support for war with Iraq and his ruthless defense of a clearly bad decision.

Vice-presidential candidates today need to be able to handle themselves well in front of the public and the media. They cannot be as obscure as they once were, and they need to be carefully vetted in advance so that they don't embarrass the presidential nominee with disclosures about their personal or political lives in the course of a tough campaign.

The Democratic Party has made history with its vice-presidential selections in recent years — Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman selected for the ticket in 1984 and Joe Lieberman became the first Jewish nominee in 2000. So it is certainly possible that a woman or a minority could be in the ticket in the No. 2 spot in 2008.

But we probably are not yet at a point in our history where both the presidential and vice presidential nominees can be either minorities or a woman.

No matter what happens in the next 16 months, don't expect a "dream team" ticket next year.

Martin Frost served in Congress from 1979 to 2005, representing a diverse district in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. He served two terms as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the third-ranking leadership position for House Democrats, and two terms as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Frost serves as a regular contributor to FOX News Channel and is a partner at the law firm of Polsinelli, Shalton, Flanigan and Suelthaus. He holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from the Georgetown Law Center.

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