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Political Insiders Poll

Q: Who would make a good running mate for Barack Obama?

Democrats (78 votes)

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York   17 percent
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius             12 percent
Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware              9 percent 
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland                   9 percent
Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia                  9 percent
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell               8 percent


Also receiving votes: Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, "too soon to answer," 4 percent each; Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, 3 percent each; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, retired Gen. Jim Jones, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, "doesn't matter," "not Hillary Rodham Clinton," "someone qualified," 1 percent each.

Hillary Rodham Clinton


"She received a majority of votes from women, seniors, Latinos, and blue collars in the primaries. We need those voters excited in the general election."

"Assuming that 'good running mate' is a synonym for a vice presidential selection who can help you get to the swearing-in ceremony, Hillary Clinton is the answer, though it is unlikely as long as Obama supporters refer to Clinton campaigners as 'you people.' "

"One way or another, like it or not, he is going to need help with the working class and women."

"People will say, Obama needs an old-guard white male with foreign-policy experience to balance out John McCain. I think it will be a mistake to try to compete with a McCain presidential candidacy with a vice presidential candidacy. He needs a woman on the ticket, and possibly even a Republican woman. The problem is, how can he pick any other woman but Clinton?"


"There's always an upside and a downside to any selection. Obama should suck it up, his top supporters should suck it up, and the party bigs should weigh in and put this historic ticket together."

"We can't seem to make up our mind, so in classic consumer excess we should buy both."

Kathleen Sebelius

"Governor, female, viewed as professional and principled."

"What more can you ask for? As a D.C. outsider from a red state, she underscores the Obama message that he represents change and that he will be the president of blue staters and red staters. It would also be a gesture to the disappointed feminist backers of Hillary Clinton. Finally, hers and Obama's roots in Kansas may just put the state in play for the Democrats."

Joseph Biden

"Joe Biden, a tested candidate with the respect of many in party circles, would fit the bill. Geographical balance and the need to assuage a constituency or two will be dwarfed by the need to mute McCain's clearest strength in the general election."

"Who brings foreign-policy heft and national security expertise? Who connects to white, blue-collar, hardworking men? Who isn't afraid to take the gloves off? Who's ready to be president if, God forbid, duty calls? Joe Biden."

"To beat McCain, Obama will greatly need someone with experience and stature who actually knows and has dealt with foreign leaders."

Ted Strickland

"Strickland brings a number of pluses to the Obama campaign--experience, governor of a key state, credibility with blue-collar voters, and background as a minister. Almost as important is his presence as a prominent Clinton supporter, as Obama will need to unite the party over the summer."

"Strickland is pro-gun, a former minister, and is popular with the unions. Most importantly, Strickland has emphatically stated that he doesn't want to be vice president, which shows how normal and sane he really is."

Jim Webb

"He can go toe-to-toe with McCain on security, won Virginia with a strong economic populist message, and will do what a vice presidential candidate should do--defend the candidate, carry the message, and make the choice crystal clear."

"He puts a previously red state in play, he is a former Republican, and he has a strong military background."

Ed Rendell

"It has to be someone who can attract the Clinton voters, but particularly those in the industrial Midwest. If not Clinton herself, the most obvious choice is Rendell. He is a governor who can deliver Pennsylvania, he can get the Clintons to be active for the ticket, and he is Jewish--a group with concerns about Obama."

"Picking a [Hillary Clinton] loyalist will help heal the party more quickly. And Rendell would help Obama connect with blue-collar voters in the Rust Belt states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan."

Democratic Political Insiders Karen Ackerman, Jill Alper, David Axelrod, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Deb Callahan, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Jim Craig, Jerry Crawford, Stephanie Cutter, Jeff Danielson, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Michael Donilon, Tom Donilon, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Eric Eve, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Gordon Fischer, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Don Fowler, Gina Glantz, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Michael Gronstal, Marcia Hale, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Mike Henry, Leo Hindery, Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Shar Knutson, Kam Kuwata, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Sylvia Larsen, Jeff Link, Bill Lynch, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Terry McAuliffe, Caroline McCarley, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Scott Parven, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, John Podesta, Tony Podesta, Bruce Reed, Mame Reiley, Steve Ricchetti, Susan Rice, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, John Ryan, Wendy Sherman, Terry Shumaker, Bob Slagle, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Darry Sragow, Karl Struble, Katrina Swett, Sarah Swisher, Eric Tabor, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Mike Veon, Rick Wiener, Bridgette Williams, and JoDee Winterhof, Jim Zogby.

Q: Who would make a good running mate for John McCain?

Republicans (81 votes)

                                       Now          2/23/08
Ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney   32 percent   11 percent
Ex-OMB Director Rob Portman         14 percent    8 percent
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty          9 percent   15 percent
Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut    6 percent    7 percent
Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia         4 percent    0 percent
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist           4 percent    6 percent
Ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell   4 percent    1 percent 


Mitt Romney

"He's been vetted by the national press, can help with swing states of Michigan and New Hampshire, and has the best fundraising machine in the country. Few others bring as much or more."

"I would not have said this two months ago, but I think he would help McCain with conservatives and on the economy. He'd also be reassuring as a potential president, having passed that bar as a result of the campaign. Finally, if McCain is to successfully question Obama's readiness to be president, his own running mate must have better credentials than Obama. Romney does."

"Appears to be the only candidate who fits the bill: stature, economic credentials, executive experience, fully vetted, able to raise lots of money."

"It appears that McCain and Romney have put their past issues behind them. Romney has been an articulate spokesperson for McCain in recent months and would bring some much-needed energy to the Republican base."

"Can talk economy, can talk health care: covers two of the top three issues this fall that McCain doesn't care about.

"Think 'M': Michigan and money."

Rob Portman

"His background and experience--substantive legislator able to work with Democrats; international negotiator; economics and finance--would be a material addition to the ticket. More importantly, he is a superb campaign strategist, message articulator, and debater."

"He's telegenic, smart, has Washington experience, and comes from Ohio."

"Youthful, from Ohio, and a strong economic, budget, and trade background. McCain does not need a Southerner. He needs someone from the Midwest."

"McCain needs to reach out to economic conservatives. And Portman's philosophical direction and instincts will help ease their concerns about the nominee."

Tim Pawlenty

"Lots of pluses: attractive, smart, swing state, next generation."

"Smart, talented, young, and successful governor from a swing state. He adds tremendous balance to the ticket."

"Puts Minnesota in Mac's column--no small feat."

Joe Lieberman

"Everyone throws things at me when I suggest this, but it would define McCain as the guy who really can reach across party lines and bring the country together. And it would say the war is the defining issue."

"Fusion ticket and gets beyond pure partisanship. He's been vetted and knows the ropes. Down side: Given McCain's age, are we ready for a Jewish president?"

Eric Cantor

"Jewish money and votes are the tip of the iceberg. He's young, charismatic, conservative, strong on domestic policy, and a favorite of the Religious Right."

Charlie Crist

"He is a popular Republican governor from a Southern swing state with a big Electoral College vote total. This should be an absolute no-brainer."

"This race will be 99 percent about Obama and McCain. To the extent that the veep matters at all, we may as well go for someone to protect a vulnerable large state."

Colin Powell

"The standard political thinking of a conservative versus moderate or Southerner versus Midwesterner won't apply for McCain: This will be more of a personal choice, one that reflects who McCain truly believes is prepared to be president the day his administration is sworn in."

"How could anyone vote against a McCain-Powell ticket?"

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Wayne Berman, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Danny Carroll, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Rick Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Steve Duprey, Debi Durham, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Sam Geduldig, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bruce Keough, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris Lacivita, Jim Lake, Chuck Larson, Steve Lombardo, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Bill McInturff, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Ed Rogers, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Don Sipple, Robin Smith, Javier Soto, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Eric Tanenblatt, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Tom Wilson, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, and Fred Wszolek.

This article appears in the May 24, 2008 edition of National Journal Magazine Contents.

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