Some 4-letter options for John McCain
As I noted in my previous post, Democrats have adopted the “10-letter strategy” that Republicans have used in all seven of their wins over the past ten presidential elections. The surnames of Nixon Agnew, Reagan Bush, Bush Quayle and Bush Cheney all added up to 10 letters. Now, for the first time in 84 years, Democrats have selected a 10-letter ticket of their own, Obama Biden. Can John McCain respond in kind?
Since McCain is 6 letters, he needs a veep with just four letters, and none of the speculated choices add up, so to speak. The surnames of Romney, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Hutchinson, Lieberman, Cantor, Palin, Fiorina, Whitman, Jindal, Powell and Crist are all too long. I can think of four four-letter possibilities who would make credible nominees, but they haven’t been mentioned on anybody’s short list:
- Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) sought the presidency in her own right in 2000, but her senate seat is up for re-election this year. Polls for her contest show it to be very competitive, even with Dole running as an incumbent. She is even planning to campaign right through the Republican National Convention, which she therefore won't attend. Her seat would likely go Democratic if Republicans had to make a last-minute substitution.
- Our own Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) would bring lots of experience and the loyalty of an important “swing state,” but Bond’s record on earmarks would contradict McCain’s maverick appeal on that issue. Also, the 69-year-old Bond would aggravate concerns about the age of 72-year-old McCain, an issue on which Obama surrogates continue to hammer.
- Former New York Mayor Ed Koch would be a wild card, in more ways than one. Like Joe Lieberman, Koch would form a outside-the-box cross-party ticket. He would also match Lieberman’s Jewish faith, but frankly, rising GOP star Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) would accomplish the same appeal to Jewish voters without alienating the Republican Party base. Plus, Koch is a bit of a loose cannon.
- The best four-letter choice might be Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. An African American woman with lengthy foreign policy experience, she would also be a groundbreaking choice. Her race would only matter as a demonstration that Republicans are not bigotted, because neither Rice nor Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney will significantly erode the nearly unanimous African American support for Obama. But Rice’s gender is a different story. She could conceivably seal the deal with disaffected supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton.
None of these four, or any other four-letter name, appears in the Oracle’s crystal ball. Instead I expect McCain to choose either Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty or Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, allowing Obama to test whether the 10-letter strategy works for Democrats as well as it has for Republicans.