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A Joint Ticket? Not so Fast

Keep dreaming on a dream team? (AP).

By Peter Baker
So is the Democratic race heading toward an eventual marriage between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton on the same ticket? Clinton seemed to suggest that herself during a morning show appearance yesterday and there has been a lot of buzz about the idea among Democrats and bloggers. But before anyone starts throwing confetti, there are lots of reasons to wonder whether that might or should happen.

The idea of a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket actually has been a topic of speculation for more than a year now. There was a time that some political types assumed Obama was running largely to position himself for a shot at the vice presidential spot on the ticket. Little did they realize he was running for president to actually be president. But the agitation for a "dream ticket," as some Democrats view it, only picked up as the primaries yielded an extremely competitive race. The biggest applause during the first one-on-one debate between the two in Los Angeles at the end of January came from liberals cheering a question about whether they would form a ticket together.

But they are clearly not there yet, if ever they will be. Asked about the prospect on CBS's "The Early Show" yesterday following her victories in the Ohio and Texas primaries, Clinton seemed to hint that she could envision it down the road. "Well, that may, you know, be where this is headed," she laughed, "but of course we have to decide who's on the top of the ticket." She then added: "I think that the people of Ohio very clearly said that it should be me." Obama later in the day brushed off the idea for now. "It is premature to talk about a joint ticket," he said.

The appeal of it, though, is obvious. The two have not waged an ideological struggle that would make it hard to reconcile in a single campaign. Democratic voters largely seem to like both candidates, according to polling and conversations in various primary states. They may feel more strongly about one than the other, but they seem open to either. As our assistant polling director, Jennifer Agiesta, reported after our pre-primary polls in Ohio and Texas, more than seven in 10 likely voters there said they would be satisfied with either Obama or Clinton as the party's nominee. Having them both on the ticket would in theory capture the enthusiasm each has generated among women and African Americans eager for a historic breakthrough.

Clinton has a more short-term tactical reason for dangling the possibility out there during interviews now -- it serves as a subtle message to Democratic voters attracted to Obama that they can still vote for her and get him too. When Vibe magazine asked her if there was a chance she would put Obama on her ticket if she won last week, Clinton said three times, "Of course, there is." And the idea of her picking Obama as her vice president has a certain logic to it. She would be bringing along the next generation, tapping into the energy he has aroused among younger voters and energizing the African American electorate. The logic for Obama naming Clinton as his running mate, should he win, is a little more debatable. It would, in theory, rally the party -- but it might also undercut his message about turning a page from the past and bringing change to the capital. And it might also be harder for Clinton, after all this time in Washington and in the White House, to accept the junior slot than it would be for the younger Obama, who just got to the Senate a couple of years ago.

There is, of course, a longstanding history of pulling together tickets from two competitors for the nomination as a way of healing wounds and bringing a party together. John F. Kennedy put Lyndon B. Johnson on his ticket in 1960 after competing for the top Democratic slot. Ronald Reagan did the same after beating George H.W. Bush for the Republican nomination in 1980. But it did not happen again for another 24 years after that, until John F. Kerry tapped defeated Democratic rival John Edwards to be his running mate in 2004.

And that may serve as a cautionary tale for both Clinton and Obama as they think about this in coming weeks. Clinton need only turn to her own campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, if she wants to know how it works to team up with a primary rival. He detailed in his book, "What a Party," last year just how dysfunctional the Kerry-Edwards team was.

McAuliffe wrote that he asked Edwards after the election why he was not out attacking President Bush more. "Terry, they wouldn't let me," an exasperated Edwards answered. "I wanted to go after the Swift Boat guys. I wanted to go after Bush. They wouldn't let me." The Kerry people exiled the North Carolina senator to smaller, secondary markets and would not even share polling data with him, Edwards told McAuliffe.

McAuliffe later asked Kerry about that and the Massachusetts senator denied it. "He told me that he was frustrated that Edwards was not out campaigning harder," McAuliffe wrote. "Kerry said that Edwards told him several times, 'Watch the news tomorrow! I'm really going to go after Bush.' Then Kerry would watch the news the next night, and Edwards was nowhere to be seen."

McAuliffe concluded this way: "As I used to say to my staff all the time, what a s----- show!"

Are we in for a sequel?

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 6, 2008; 1:17 PM ET
Categories:  Morning Cheat Sheet  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: For Obama, an Uphill Battle in Pennsylvania
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The Clintons are only suggesting they might pick Obama for vice president because they think it might get them votes, and because they think subconciously it will put in people's minds the idea that she is going to win the nomination. That is bull. In a Hillary Clinton presidency, Bill would be the defacto acting vice president in all that matters, and Obama wouldn't get to do anything. He would be a token. I don't like Hillary Clinton, and I don't want her for President, no matter who her vice president is. I won't vote for her if she is the nominee.

Posted by: tlsanders1 | March 8, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Never say never.

Posted by: JakeD | March 8, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Obama would never pick Clinton as VP -- why in the world would he add someone who nearly 50% of the US despises? And, there is zero chance Clinton can be nominated because (1) she can't catch up in elected delegates; (2) she can't catch up in popular vote; and (3) the Dem super delegates will never be so stupid as to pick her when she was not the pick of their Dem constituents. So, sorry, there will be no dream ticket -- and any ticket with Clinton on it would be a nightmare anyway. Not good to nominate a Monster who would do or say anything to get elected. That is ROVE style politics and it's time for a change from all that.

Posted by: dolph924 | March 8, 2008 1:45 AM | Report abuse

obama would lose all respect if he chose HRC as his running mate. those who think
HRC will be the nominee are still in dream land. unless HRC wins the popular vote and the delegate count ( she cannot win the delegate count) she has a weak argument to have the super-delegates intervene for her. she has the weaker of any argument for the nomination, so she will not have the option to choose him anyway. she might make a nice Defense Secretary or Secretary of State for obama after the general election though.

Posted by: jacade | March 7, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

'If you can't win in Ohio, you can win the Presidency. It's that simple.'

I don't think this is what you meant to write, but I agree. Candidates have not won Ohio and have won the presidency. Besides you act like its some rule. FDR and JFK are two presidents that didn't win Ohio.

Posted by: jganymede | March 7, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Zukermand - Ah, it was a Balz story, so you just posted to the wrong thread. I still sharply disagree with your contention that awareness of the racial mix is racism. Way over the top.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | March 7, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Zukermand - When you use quotation marks, that should be an exact quotation. The alleged quotation appears nowhere in the story. Nor do the terms black, mix, roughly, or similar, so you weren't even paraphrasing. I suppose you might be cross-posting today, but that hardly helps your argument.

Even that as a given, acknowledging a racial component to the voting is not racism. Obama is winning close to 90% of the African American vote (Baker used the presently accepted term). Thus, the racial mix of a given state is significant.


P.S. JakeD - shouldn't that be a Barack HUSSEIN Obama - Hillary DIANE Clinton ticket? :-)

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | March 7, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

joint ticket?

And you thought Glamis (Macbeth) hath murdered sleep,
just have Lady (Hillary) Macbeth as vice president and the the president will never sleep again.

Posted by: jganymede | March 7, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

While everyone is trying to play "Matchmaker",

I had a Thought.

Chelsea/ RAT! :-)

Maybe even RAT/ Chelsea! ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | March 7, 2008 2:58 AM | Report abuse

The only likely way Hillary can be nominated by president is by breaking prior agreed upon rules about the Michigan and Florida delegayes, as well as especially persuading enough superdelegates to overrule majority rule in the pledged delegates. In other words the only way Hillary probably would win is by breaking the rules and overturning democracy in the Democratic party. Why would Barack agree to be her Vice-Presidential nominee if he is cheated out of the nomination? He would be marginalized as Vice-president, be obliged to defend domestic and foreign policies of Clintons and probably not be a viable candidate in 2016.

Barack should not choose Hillary as his Vice-President because she would lose many independent and especially moderate Republican votes who would probably vote for him. Hillary's experience in national security is highly exaggerated. He should choose someone who has proven national security experience, such as Al Gore.

Posted by: Koreen | March 7, 2008 1:21 AM | Report abuse

We must remember recent history. Hillary is not as popular as Bill Clinton, and in '92 Bill got 43% of the popular vote, and in '96 he got 49% of the vote. Since Ross Perot is not running, even if Hillary manged to do as well as her more popular husband, we would have Mccain for president.

The Clinton legacy in general elections is the legacy of Gore and Kerry, a legacy of not quite good enough to win. Our candidate for 2008 must be the candidate fore a new democratic party, and not the heir of a faltering dynasty if we are to suceed.

Posted by: 3010mu | March 7, 2008 12:14 AM | Report abuse

We must remember recent history. Hillary is not as popular as Bill Clinton, and in '92 Bill got 43% of the popular vote, and in '96 he got 49% of the vote. Since Ross Perot is not running, even if Hillary manged to do as well as her more popular husband, we would have Mccain for president.

The Clinton legacy in general elections is the legacy of Gore and Kerry, a legacy of not quite good enough to win. Our candidate for 2008 must be the candidate fore a new democratic party, and not the heir of a faltering dynasty if we are to suceed.

Posted by: 3010mu | March 7, 2008 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Hillary should choose a white male with strong national security credentials as her running mate to make her ticket unbeatable.

Obama is unelectable. It's time for him to exit the race. Hillary has proven she can win big in the big states that are the must wins for the Dems in November. In Ohio, Obama won only 5 out of 88 counties. Those 5 counties are where the black votes are. If you can't win in Ohio, you can win the Presidency. It's that simple.


Posted by: TAH1 | March 6, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

It would be insane for Obama to select Hillary as his running mate. She's just not temperamentally qualified to serve, as she's demonstrated several times on the stump in recent weeks. She's been openly contemptuous of Sen. Obama's candidacy, so how could she be expected to loyally serve under him?

And then, of course, there's the little problem that the Clintons have been far more tainted by Antoin Rezko and his associates who are currently on trial in Illinois than has Sen. Obama. Why give even more fuel to the press and the anti-Dem nutjobs who continue to baselessly attack Sen. Obama's tenuous association with Mr. Rezko by adding Rezko-tainted Hillary to the ticket?

"[T]he Chicago Sun-Times reports that the national co-chair of Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigo, also got Rezko donations.

"Here is the rundown on his fellow defendants, from FEC data via, in descending order by amounts donated:

" • Stuart Levine: 210 donations for federal candidates, totaling $255,350, mostly to Republicans. Biggest contributions to Illinois Republican Party and to National PAC. One $5000 donation to the Illinois Democratic Party. Most individual donations to GOP candidates from GWBush on down, except for a few $2000 donations to Joe Lieberman, Mark Green of NY, who now appears frequently on MSNBC as a Clinton supporter, and Illinois State Comptroller Daniel W. Hynes, whose father, Thomas C. Hynes, was formerly a Cook County Assessor. Dan Hynes was among Barack Obama's primary opponents in the Illinois U.S. Senate race in 2003. Levine donated $1000 to Bill Clinton in 1995. Levine has not donated to Obama.

" • Joseph Cari, Jr: pulled out his checkbook 137 times from 1993 on, giving $193,836 under Joseph and $8958 under Joe to candidates for federal office, mostly to Dems. Further donations from family members incl $1000 to Bill Clinton in 1995. Biggest Cari donations went to the DNC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Individual donations, usually $1000 apiece, to Dem candidates across the country incl the natl figures--Gore, Kerry, Kennedys--and others incl Robert Torricelli in NJ, Chuck Robb in VA, and even the late Paul Wellstone in MN ($250). Cari donated $2000 to Bill Clinton in 1995, another $1000 to Clinton campaign manager David Wilhelm, $500 and $1000 to Hillary Clinton in 2000 and 2003, and donated twice to HILLPAC in 2002. The Hillary Clinton campaign has apparently returned the $1000 but not the other donations. Cari also donated several times to Southern Wine & Spirits, a PAC donating to both major parties which has also donated to both Clintons. Cari has also donated to several Illinois Democratic candidates including Gov. Blagojevich and former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski. No contribution to Obama individually is listed, but the Obama campaign has returned $1439 from apportioned committee contributions.

" • P. Nicholas Hurtgen, former Bear Stearns manager in Chicago: 48 federal contributions from Hurtgen and his wife in recent years, totaling $47,787, almost entirely to GOP candidates--$5000+ to the Republican National Committee, $4000 to GWBush, most of the rest to other Republicans. However, the Hurtgens have also donated $2000 to Rahm Emanuel and $7000 to Mark Green of NY, a Clinton supporter."

Posted by: whatmeregister | March 6, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm an Independent. I vote every election. My only interest in the Democratic primary is Obama. I'm sure there are many others like me, who are not attracted by Clinton. If he's nominated, I vote Democratic. If she's nominated, I vote Nader, because to me there's not much difference between her and McCain. They're both on the far side of political evolution, and on the wrong side of the past eight years in Washington.

Posted by: edwcorey | March 6, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Who would want to be Veep in a Hillary Clinton administration? He'd be the #3 man, since Bill Clinton ....wait, make that #4, since Bill Clinton and his tremendous ego will be along for the ride! You don't think that her spouse as the ex-president won't have a huge say in how things should go? I wouldn't want to be VP. You'd end up being another Dan Quayle.

Posted by: Charlene-K | March 6, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Their views on the issues may be similar but their views of leadership couldn't be more different.

Clinton believes in a top down model of leadership: crafting policy and cramming it though the legislature. Obama's leadership is bottom up: inspiring large groups of people to pay attention and get involved in an issue, making it a national priority, and getting things done that way. This was the true significance of the LBJ versus MLK debate, before it got subsumed by race.

I don't believe these two leadership styles can exist together. I think it would be an especially bad compromise for Obama.

Posted by: bensonbark | March 6, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Back to my initial question, it is not impossible to think that McCain would select Senator Feinstein -- or maybe Lieberman -- she holds a number of "firsts"; she was the first female President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, San Francisco's first and only female mayor, the first woman to serve in the Senate from California, one of two first female Jewish senators, the first woman to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the first woman to chair the Rules and Administration committee of that body. First female Vice-President wouldn't be that bad (and she could run for President herself in 8 years -- assuming McCain lasts that long). What do you guys think?

Posted by: JakeD | March 6, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse


Are you forgetting how all-powerful the current Vice-President has become?

Posted by: JakeD | March 6, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Let's look at realism over Obama/Clinton ticket has merit in that it fully encompasses the Biblical 'the first shall be last and the last first.' Historically, the White male power structure has put America in the position it is in now... morally, ethically, politically, environmentally, and economically bankrupt. They still say White Women are inferior to them, ergo less pay for same job, and it took a constitutional ammendment for African-Americans to be considered fully human. They have allowed drugs to invade the shores of America (only the white male power structure has had the power to allow that to occur; women and people of color have never had that type of national authority), they have allowed soft porn on our airwaves via MTV, VH1, and BET only to turn around and blame the parents, they have created a tax system in which skilled accountants can't comprehend, they have dictated acceptable beauty in the form of stick figures, they have betrayed America's citizens by making us human targets in the war on terrorism by always sticking their nose in other countries instead of focusing on our homeland, they have rocked the financial and housing markets to the point of near recession, they have outsourced our jobs to grow their pockets, and the list goes on.

We seriously cannot have Hillary on top of the ticket because we all know that her only goal is to avenge, or try to avenge Bill and their Whitewater, Rose Law Firm, Monica mess, therefore nothing will get accomplished across party lines (Republican hate bill and will refuse to work with her because of him and that they didn't 'get him' and she will do the same intrun. At least with Obama at the top, bipartisianship is truly possible for they have no axe to grind with him, and too, we are back on the road to gain world respect along the lines of true diversity because foreign leaders are more apt to listen and cooperate with a nation represented by someone who looks more like the world community and civilizations. Too, we get the new generation representation, a passing of the baton to Generation X,especially being on the brink of the Baby Boom Retirement, and Hillary can do what she does best based on her political history...bad cop to Obama's good cop. Her and Bill already have that role down pat.

The only down-side would be should Obama experience a demise in the likes of Martin, Robert, Jack, Malcom, and Medgar, Hillary would appoint a Vice President, and of course we all know that would be Bill. Ken Starr,Monica, Flowers, and too many bimbo moments, all over again.

Posted by: emeraldfalcon | March 6, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

How do you think Obama and/or Clinton would do against McCain-Feinstein?

Posted by: JakeD | March 6, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Gen. Wes Clark and Hillary would be good together (Clinton/Clark). I don't know Sen. Obama as well (meaning I haven't watched him in national politics as long), maybe he'd choose another senator (Dodd, Kerry, Kennedy)? I don't know. Probably not Edwards, based on the comments in this story about Edwards and Kerry.

Posted by: jj394857 | March 6, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket is a match made in perdition. Hillary needs Obama more to win, then Bill will try to usurp Obama's role. I think not about this pairing. Period.

Posted by: meldupree | March 6, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: vitana1900 | March 6, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

McCain/Clinton is a better ticket.

1)They seems to genuinely care for each other.

2)She endorsed him over Obama, because she shares the same foreign policy views McBush do. So it's understandable.

3)It looks like they have a great time when traveling together.

4)She's his type. They look like they have a crush on each other. It's cute.

Posted by: vitana1900 | March 6, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

i think political commentators should pull back for a second and realize how ridiculous a joint ticket would be. the clinton campaign, as has been noted, is clearly trying to use the media to get this information out to try to (i say rather unfairly) give her an advantage among superdelegates and those who have yet to vote to think that she should get a top slot and obama should get the vp. how would they possible run together if there is already a video clip running around saying "mccain has a lifetime of experience. i [hillary] have a lifetime of experience. barack has a speech." think about it, please.

Posted by: fox_qajgev | March 6, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The Clintons don't need a VP. They are co-presidents according to their statements on the trail.

Posted by: vitana1900 | March 6, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Ideologically not much different? When will you so called pundits understand the appeal of Barack Obama? How many times do I have to hear some idiot ask what "change" does Obama stand for or mean? Very simple. We cannot get any major legislation passed unless the following occurs: 1. Need a groud swell from the people. 2. Minimize the power of special interests and lobbyists. and 3. Run a unifying campaign that does not divide this country further. Which of the three does Hillary represent ideologically? Ummm... none. In addition, why would Obama want to be VP with Bill already occupying spot of president 1A? On the flip side, why would Hillary want a VP who actually inspires people so much more than she can? This will not happen. It is Hillary holding on to supporters who like both candidates but don't have the brains to realize that this scenario will never happen.

Posted by: Brian_Aufderheide | March 6, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, Mr Balz. It is Peter Baker who is the racist today. How long can the Washington Post stonewall this issue?

Posted by: zukermand | March 6, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Which combination do you believe is most likely?


Posted by: jeffboste | March 6, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

There's a catchy new song I've been hearing a lot of lately by *Fountains of Wayne*. The songs refrain is *Oooh we belong together... Like traffic and weather*. Somehow I see Hillary and Barack as more *oil & water*.

Posted by: dionc9 | March 6, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse


THAT, one day, Green Party Supporters and People of Color, along with a handful of Morons who like hearing nice Speakers,


With older White people, Hispanic People, Working Class, Moderates,

In a UNITED Democrat Party!

LOL! :-o

THEN, I woke up, Thanked God I am a Conservative Capitalism Loving RAT, and laughed at THAT Fantasy! ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | March 6, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

An Obama/Clinton ticket would have a good chance to beat McCain. Not sure the other way around;

Obama vs. McCain- The Internet Indicators:

Posted by: davidmwe | March 6, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

"The black-white mix is roughly similar, meaning Obama will not have a significantly larger African American population to tap"
Mr Balz is obviously a racist. An immediate apology is the minimum required, suspension or termination should also be considered.

Posted by: zukermand | March 6, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Still haven't heard a valid defense of Hillary's hypocricy on NAFTA -

Posted by: RollaMO | March 6, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

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