Lots of people, including myself, thought that Ohio Governor Ted Strickland might be a very plausible Veep candidate for Obama: extremely popular in a critical state, formerly represented an Appalachian district in the Congress, Hillary supporter, executive experience, strong campaigner. But apparently not:
Asked if he was angling to become Senator Barack Obama’s vice-presidential running mate, he told NPR: “Absolutely not. If drafted I will not run, nominated I will not accept, and if elected I will not serve.”
Hard to make it any clearer than that. Despite the talk today about a long list, I still think that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius would make the best choice. Sam Stein has a good piece about her today on the Huff Po. Sebelius doesn’t bring a state (although she might help somewhat in Missouri), but on the constituency matters she is of course strong, as a female Roman Catholic.
More importantly, she is supposed to be a superb administrator. And if Mark Helperin is right on his underrated VP characteristics, she scores high: she would be ready on Day One to run a bureaucracy (at least as much as anybody), and she gets along extremely well with Obama. Her SOTU response fell flat, but as Stein makes clear, she can attack quite well, thank you.
A personal vignette; several years ago, when she was the Insurance Commissioner, a student listed her as a reference on his application. So I called her office, and she immediately dropped everything and took the call to talk up her student (we admitted him, and he was an excellent student and now an excellent lawyer). That’s the only time I have ever contacted a public official about a reference that the official took the call. That may not say much about Sebelius as a candidate, but I think it says something about her as a person.
One interesting issue with her, though: I mentioned her to a colleague who is an Obama supporter but very sympathetic to Hillary (enraged at the sexist attacks on her), and she said: “No way. She’ll be seen as a replacement Hillary. It will just make the Hillary supporters angrier.” Who knows. I would think and hope that the feminist support for Hillary wouldn’t degenerate into a personality cult, but we’ve stranger things in politics.