The Campaign Spot

Contemplating the Ramifications of Ridge or Lieberman

Based on what Rich notes, it would seem that Lieberman and Ridge are still in the mix for McCain’s running mate, expected to be announced August 29, the day after the Democratic convention. (A day when much of the political press corps will be on planes, returning from Denver to Washington and New York.)

If McCain picked Lieberman, some would salute the gesture as a genuine effort at bipartisanship. But Lieberman was effectively cast out of his own party when Ned Lamont beat him in the 2006 primary. His approval rating in the state is 45 percent vs. 43 percent disapproval. Two-thirds of the state’s Democrats disapprove of him (probably because he seems attached at the hip with McCain). The polling evidence that it would help McCain in Connecticut is spotty — see here and here. It would be nice for a Republican candidate to win Connecticut’s 7 electoral votes that everyone is already tossing in the Democratic pile, but it’s something of a long shot. There’s much lower-hanging fruit elsewhere — New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin…
Beyond that, McCain would be asking Republican voters to put a socially and economically liberal Democrat a heartbeat away from the presidency, said heartbeat belonging to a 72-year-old who has survived cancer. A lot of Republicans and conservatives like Joe Lieberman, but they don’t want to see him as president.
Ridge was last elected to high office, the governorship of Pennsylvania, in 1998. Beyond his work with the Hershey Corporation, he hasn’t spent an enormous amount of time in the Keystone State since leaving to run homeland security in late 2001. It’s not fair, but he’s probably most associated with the color-coded terror alert system instituted at the Department of Homeland Security. Is Ridge worth 4 to 12 percentage points in Pennsylvania? He would likely help McCain, but not by that much.
The race has been looking good for McCain for the past few weeks or so. Picking either of these men would suddenly and irreversibly complicate the task before him immensely.
Having ripped these guys, I’ll make one observation in their favor: Both pass the “could you see him as president?” test, a stature that is currently beyond the range of several of Obama’s possibilities, most notably Kaine and Sebelius…


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