When I was in graduate school at Vanderbilt, Dr. Michael Nelson, one of the world’s leading authorities on the Vice Presidency, was my master’s thesis advisor. Nelson, who is now a professor at Rhodes College, has written a series of books, entitled The Presidency and The Political System, about how the presidency works.
Picking the right Vice Presidential candidate is a big part of it.
I’ve never met Sen. Portman, but followed his career as a Cincinnati Congressman to the Senate and know he has the “right stuff” to be president. He has wide and vast experience in government and doesn’t bring a lot of negative baggage to the table.
On the topic of “right stuff,” I keep thinking about John Glenn. Tom Wolfe wrote a classic book called The Right Stuff about Glenn and the brave pilots and astronauts who founded the American space program.
Glenn, the ultimate American hero, was a United States Senator from Ohio from 1974 to 1999. In 1988, Democratic party nominee Michael Dukakis was looking for a running mate and needed to win Ohio.
The betting favorite was Glenn, and Dukakis did disgusting things like tease Ohio audiences with the possibility that Glenn was the pick.
Instead, Dukakis chose Lloyd Bentsen from Texas. Bentsen is credited as a wonderful choice because he delivered the most famous line in Vice Presidential debate history when he told Dan Quayle, “You’re no Jack Kennedy.”
On the other hand, Bentsen did not help Dukakis carry Texas. Or Ohio. Or almost anywhere else. Bush received over 400 electoral votes and blew Dukakis out of the water.
He might have done better if Glenn was on the ticket. At least he would have had a chance of carrying Ohio.
This race is not going to be a blowout. Obama is leading in the polls, but it could still go either way. Ohio could still be the game changer.