Clinton’s VP Comments Hinting At Reality?

Of course one of the most frustrating things about the aftermath of last night’s primaries is the disparity between the media narratives and the mathematical facts on the ground.

Mathematically, Hillary Clinton fell far short of winning the net delegates she needed to even maintain the race in the state that it is in, let alone actually make up for lost ground.

The implications are unambiguous; there are fewer delegates to be had, and now Hillary needs to pick up a higher percentage of those than she has had to pick up to date.  Aside from some psychological benefits I believe will be blunted come Saturday when we should know the full results of the Texas caucuses and Wyoming goes to choose its favorite for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton didn’t win big last night–she lost in the context of the big picture.

But a very unusual comment coming from Hillary Clinton is enough to furrow the brows of those who have been paying close attention to this race and marks a first in the contest between these two candidates.  Going where neither Democratic Candidate has gone before, Hillary Clinton hinted at a joint ticket between herself and Obama.

This strikes me as particularly surprising given the circumstances; last night’s victories for Clinton were supposed to be the resurrection of her campaign, the last stand that held.  Given that up until now both candidates have artfully dodged the rather frequent question of whether or not they would be willing to share the ticket, it is odd that at the same time the Clinton campaign has renewed its argument that it is indeed viable, it would make a particular show of electorate weakness that it is not in a position to turn down a joint ticket.

This has set folks a-buzzing as you could easily imagine, and you can check out some of those opinions here and here, but a reader comment has me thinking in a slightly different direction than the norm.

The general consensus seems to be that Clinton is telegraphing that she’s offering Obama the number 2 spot on her ticket, something that is becoming close to a necessity given Obama’s strengths among the youth vote, the African-American vote, and a huge swath of voters that are not loyal to the party but instead to the candidate.

The major flaw in this theory, though, is that it’s too raw of a deal–no one with a shred of sanity could possibly think this would work:

“Hey, Barry, can I talk at you?”

“What’s up?”

“Hillary wants you on the ticket.”

“I should hope so…”

“She wants you to be the Vice President.”

“Oh…”

“Yeah…  So what do you think?”

“Hmm… I don’t know.  Let’s see.  I won the most states.  I won the popular vote.  I won the most pledged delegates.  And I consistently poll better against McCain than she does…  This is a tough call.  Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure thing.”

“Do you guys smoke crack?”

Right.  The only thing that could make this a plausible scenario (without the crack smoking implications, of course) is if Hillary actually does move the Super Delegates to overturn a pledged delegate lead at which point we have bigger problems than who’s going to be on the ticket.

But as I said earlier, reader Kelly Pierce had some words that have me tracking in an entirely different direction:

She is counting on the fatigue of the electorate not to want to go the distance in an all out fight – but she has sowed too many seeds that Obama is “not ready” – that it is dangerous for him to be picking up that phone and be entrusted with our economic concerns – so much so that according to Pew 20% of Democrats will not vote for him – she wants that number to increase and will do anything accomplish it.

But she (and her supporters) will say it’s not because she is “mean” but because she is our tough more experienced sainted Mother who wants to protect us. This is why she MUST fight on – all the way to the convention and why and a Obama/Clinton ticket is not acceptable.

Rather, she will put forth (and has on all the morning shows today) that the only way out of this mess is a Clinton/Obama ticket -It solves all our problems, addresses all our concerns (that she has created/brought to light) – she then is the Party uniter and if Obama refuses – that shows he is really a divider.

Trust me, this is the subtext of everything going forward. Meanwhile she will do everything to freeze the superdelegates and whittle down Obama’s lead – including revotes – while she brings everyone to the same consensus.

What really struck me, though, was the implication of Clinton supporters that would not support Obama in the General Election.

That’s very important.

One thing we have to consider is that Clinton needs Obama far more than Obama needs Clinton.  In general, Clinton’s base of support more closely tracks with those voters who will vote for whomever is the Democratic nominee in the fall, whereas Obama’s coalition tends track more outside of the party’s boundaries.  The biggest get that Obama has received being the youth vote which has been a much sought after but rarely rewarded commodity for Democrats.

On the other hand, the more this contest continues on, the higher that number of Clinton supporters who won’t support Obama is likely to go up, especially if the race takes decidedly nastier turns.  You will see a growth in what Bostondreams affectionately calls “TMers”.

As a result it may be possible that Hillary Clinton is not necessarily just trying to get Obama to buy into a raw deal, she may actually be trying to hedge her bets and force her way into the second slot on an Obama ticket.  By prolonging the race, she increases the necessity for Obama to have her on the ticket when otherwise he would be more wisely served by picking a Southern moderate like Jim Webb or Tim Kaine, while at the same time setting herself up as the presumptive nominee after Obama’s bid is done.

This provides a rather interesting and counter-intuitive approach to running for Vice President.  Typically one would think that you do it by buttering up the presumptive nominee, but in this case Hillary just may be setting up a situation where Obama has to pick Clinton as a running mate because to pick anyone else would be too painful.

At the same time, this does open the door for Obama to have the same opportunity to be her running mate.  In this way of thinking, this could be a preemptive warning signal that the kitchen sink is not all she’s going to throw at him.  Hillary may very well be ready to apply pressure until Obama cries “uncle” with a possible VP slot added to speed the process along.

In either case, I think that this comment more than anything else hints at the possibility that underneath all of the spin, the Clinton campaign knows that it is still in dire straits.  Positive headlines won’t erase the reality that this primary is still tilted very much in Obama’s favor and she’s arrived at the place where if getting back to the White House means playing second fiddle, so be it.

3 Responses to “Clinton’s VP Comments Hinting At Reality?”

  1. Bostondreams says:

    Well, you know, I could live with that, if only for the humor of watching Marsh and her ilk twist themselves into knots over having their bete noir on the ticket with their Savior.

  2. lkm55 says:

    Hillary will never have Obama on the ticket as VP. Her ego will not allow her to be upstaged for four years every time Obama gives a speech. i agree she’s counting on the the party to give up, but she’s willing to set fire to the party at the convention to make them.
    If she wins the nomination it’s a back room deal. If Obama wins and picks her as VP it says he doesn’t think he can win it all on his own.
    Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama….not going to happen.

  3. Phil Jamison says:

    On the subject of a potential Obama administration (or Clinton II’s), there is an interesting project in pure democracy just getting started on the web: automated and continuously updated ‘approval style’ voting on VP, cabinet, and major posts. Approval style voting means you can vote for as many of the choices as you approve. The site will remain open indefinitely for follow up research:
    http://puredem.wordpress.com

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