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FixCam Week in Preview: Veepstakes Timing

There are only 11 days left before the 2008 Summer Olympics begin in Beijing and, by the time they end 16 days later, we'll be less than 24 hours away from the start of the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

The Olympics are almost certain to blot out anything but the most potent non-sports news from Aug. 8 to Aug. 24 -- a reality that may well force either John McCain or Barack Obama (or both) to announce their vice presidential picks before the Olympics even get started.

A look at the last two decades of vice presidential picks reveals that if one or both men picked between today and Aug. 8, it would be a significant break with history.

Since 1988, the Republican nomination has been open, and, therefore, a vice presidential pick has been made, three times -- 1988, 1996 and 2000. The average time between the naming of the vice presidential nominee and the start of the GOP convention was less than three days, with then Vice President George H.W. Bush picking Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle a day AFTER the party convention began.

In that same time frame, Democrats have picked four vice presidents with an average lag time of nine days between the choice being publicly announced and the opening of the Democratic National Convention. The most successful veep pick in that time frame -- Tennessee Sen. Al Gore in 1992 -- was announced by Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton just four days before their convention opened. Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), on the other hand, picked Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) nearly three week before Democrats gathered in Boston.

Even if Obama or McCain waited until Aug. 7, which they almost certainly would not do, since it would give them just one day to lavish in the resultant press coverage, it would still be 18 days before the Democratic convention opened and a whopping 25 days before the Republican convention got started on Aug. 1 Sept. 1 in St. Paul.

McCain has a bit more wiggle room than Obama as there are four days between the end of the Democratic get-together and the start of the Republican festivities. McCain could well choose that window to make his pick known to the world in hopes of stepping on any bounce Obama will have coming out of the Democratic National Convention.

Or not.

Divining the specific day on which McCain and Obama will make known their vice presidential selections is nearly as difficult as predicting who each man will pick.

One thing we know for sure, however. The timing of the Olympics is almost certain to force one, if not both, of their hands sometime very soon. Stay vigilant.

And, speaking of vigilance, the winner of our "Who Won the Week" competition -- and an official Fix t-shirt -- is "John M." If that's you, make sure to send your mailing address and preferred size to chris DOT cillizza AT washingtonpost DOT com.

Here's the winning submission:

"Obama's joint appearance [with French President Nicolas Sarkozy] didn't have much effect either way. Sarkozy is an odd duck McCain, however, lost. His nasty, negative comments were completely over the line for a presidential candidate. He needs to let his subordinates do the attacking, because he is coming off as bitter and vicious. This is not going to win over the independents he needs."

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 28, 2008; 8:50 AM ET
Categories:  FixCam  
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Comments

May we please have a Fix shirt for picking the day on which each campaign will announce their VP pick?

I say Obama will wait until after the Olympics, and may not announce until the convention. It's not like it's hard for him to get Pub. between now and then.

Same with McCain - the only way he'll be able to get any coverage during the DemBowl in Denver will be announcing a big-ticket VP.

Posted by: fourhourelection@yahoo.com | July 28, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama is going to give a stadium speech to officially accept the Democratic nomination. It will be broadcast to the nation, a decent chunk of the nation will tune in, and it will probably be another fine example of oratory. McCain would be crazy to not use the following day or second day following to steal his thunder with his VP-pick.

As for Obama, he doesn't need to do much to grab the media spotlight. Sure he can suck up the week before the Olympics, when everyone is on summer vacation, with coverage of his pick but does he need it? It gives two weeks of political downtime to McCain's campaign to finish their research and hone their attacks. Obama would be better off to wait until the second or third day of the convention. Use the pick as the opening act of his stadium rock concert. Let the anticipation of who it will be drive the media and the nation nuts. It'll warm up the crowd and build anticipation of the main act. That is how you steal a week and make even the uninterested tune in.

Posted by: muD | July 28, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

My (now award-winning!) thoughts:

I think the whole Olympics thing is a bit overblown. It wouldn't be a disaster to announce a VP pick in the middle of Olympics week. McCain should pull the trigger soon on Romney if that's his pick, because Romney will help with fundraising and most of his negatives will get shaken out by the time the general starts. He can wait more on someone like Pawlenty or Portman, who is not going to help or hurt much. I think McCain is trying to figure out if he can live with Romney right now.

Obama can sit back and watch what McCain does. If I were Obama, I would announce my VP pick around the middle of next week, getting a few days of coverage before the Olympics start. Bayh and Sebelius seem like the most likely options at this point given Obama's comments over the weekend. Kaine would be good too other than his pro-life stance. My gut is that Obama's decision this week is between Sebelius/Kaine (who resonate with him the most and who reinforce his message) and Bayh (who would be very safe and check the most boxes.)

Posted by: John M. | July 28, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Everytime I try to reinvent myself, someone steals my name and puts stupid words in my mouth. If there's one thing I don't need help with, it's saying stupid things.
Loundon voter
aka LOUD and DUMB
spectator2
aka sphinctator

I will continue to post as McCain in the future. I amuse myself that way and I am getting a rash and blisters from my other method. I have so little else in my pitiful life.

yours truly,

Ace Mcnumbnuts

Posted by: who am I? | July 28, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Re. the dates of the picks, I think the Obama campaign has shown us a tendency for being a tad (too?) cute with some of its moves in a largely successful attempt to gain media coverage (see also New Hampshire, Unity). It worked for McCain too, when he went to the German restaurant while Obama was in Germany. I guess we're just suckers for puns-ishment.

So I say Obama picks his VP on the eve of or during the convention, reality-tv style. All I've got to say is that Obama could totally pull it off -- whereas J.K. couldn't do the "John Kerry reporting for duty" without even me, the liberal, snickering under my breath.

Oh... I agree with the Fix-Picked, at least insofar as Sarkozy is a bit of a duck and also odd. DId anyone see that chuckle during Obama's comments?

Posted by: uva yankee | July 28, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Sore Loserman cannot change this map for McCain

http://electoral-vote.com/

Posted by: Spectator2 | July 28, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the Fix Pick, at least insofar as Sarkozy is a bit of a duck and also odd.

Re. the dates of the picks, I think the Obama campaign has shown us a tendency for being a tad (too?) cute with some of its moves in a largely successful attempt to gain media coverage (see also New Hampshire, Unity). It worked for McCain too, when he went to the German restaurant while Obama was in Germany. I guess we're just suckers for puns-ishment.

So I say Obama picks his VP on the eve of or during the convention, reality-tv style. All I've got to say is that Obama could totally pull it off -- whereas J.K. couldn't do the "John Kerry reporting for duty" without even me, the liberal, snickering under my breath.

Posted by: uva yankee | July 28, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I am a sick, sick man. Look how many fake names I use: snObama, LOUD and DUMB, Ace McNumbnuts, sphinctator, etc. Can someone please help me?

Posted by: my name is kingofzouk | July 28, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

To the genius who suggested that Spencer from The Hills be my running mate - he's not 35 yet.

Read the Constitution before you make any more smart-aleck suggestions.

Posted by: McSame | July 28, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

my solution to being called LOUD and DUMB - rename myself to Sphinctator.

Posted by: Ace McNumbnuts | July 28, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

My solution for the budget deficit - marry the hot rich babe who'll take care of the bills.

Posted by: McCainiac | July 28, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I graduated near the bottom of my class as a legacy to my dad and grandpa at the navel academy. People thougth I was dumb until I scored the hot rich babe & all the Stella Artois I can drink. If that's not smart, I don't want to be smart.

Posted by: McCainiac | July 28, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

My solution to the budget deficit - spend like crazy. It is the Lib way. We can't help ourselves.

Posted by: snObama | July 28, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Pete Tenney that although McPain is far from the brightest bulb, this by his own admission, as well as by his class standing, he is at least bright enough to realize how elections are won in America. The jewish vote may well go to Obama but the jews who really count will go for the war-monger McInsane.

Lieberman, Israel's point man in the Senate, would guarantee McShane the presidency and he would in turn appoint Sheldon Adelson ambassador to Israel where he could then personally fund yet more illegal settlements with his ill-begotten billions from his gambling houses around the world.

Posted by: Doubtom | July 28, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

some say my social security plan is full of holes. so what. the press will cover for me. all you need to know is that the rich will pay for everything. who are the rich? the ones with some "change" left in their pockets after I get done.

Posted by: snObama | July 28, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I went to Harverd. I am too smart. Just ask any reporter. I kin reed the teleprompter reel good.

Posted by: snObama | July 28, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

So who is Barach Hussein Obama going to choose to be his running mate?A clone would be his first choice but none exist. Reverand Wright is busy and George Soros is content just financing Barach's careeer and providing talking points.

Posted by: john Son | July 28, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I keep getting mixed up. am I LOUD and DUMB or Sphinctator? but I am funny right? how about when I post as someone else, that is hilarious, isn't it?

I hope I don't get in trouble for skipping summer school. repeating 8th grade for the 3rd time is going to be boring.

Posted by: Ace McNumbnuts | July 28, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

My friends, I want to share with you some good news on the economy:


http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aVdPjt7fCiXc&refer=home

"The US budget deficit will widen to a record of about $490 billion next year, an administration official said, leaving a deep budget hole for the next president."

I know about holes. My campaign was in a hole the size of a bomb crater last year. As your next president, I will first expand the hole by making tax cuts for my wife permanent. Then we'll blast our way out. Fight bombs with bombs, as they say.

Posted by: McCainiac | July 28, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Pete: Sore Loserman will swing few jewish voters to the doddering McCain. Jews will definitely go for the left-leaning, Harvard-trained lawyer and not the formerly swaggering, now doddering, foul mouth, nasty old coot who once called his botox-addicted wife a cvnt in public.

Posted by: Spectator2 | July 28, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Where are the moron voters? I need more of them to boost my poll numbers.

Posted by: McCainiac | July 28, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

He looks to be as moronic as snObama. Wonder why that is?

Posted by: Who is this LOUD and DUMB guy | July 28, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Amerika's moron vote here - still

Posted by: LOUD and DUMB | July 28, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Hey, snObama, bombs are cheaper than schools. We're going to pay for them by making tax cuts for my wife permanent. As an added bonus, borrowing more money from overseas will further devalue the dollar. This will make the US the go-to country for manufacturing cheap exported crap. Under my administration, we'll beat the Chinese at their own game.

Posted by: McCainiac | July 28, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Why does the media spend so much time covering that punk from Illinois? Has he ever thrown them a big party at one of his many houses? What? He doesn't have many houses? Does his wife give the media all the Stella Artois they can drink? Throw me a frickin bone, people. What do I have to do to boost favorable media coverage?

Posted by: McCainiac | July 28, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

After I invade Pakistan, they will need lots of aid and more schools. Open your wallets and get ready.

Posted by: snObama | July 28, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

http://www.pollster.com/polls/us/08-us-pres-ge-mvo.php

why do I only have a three point lead? am I not saying the right things? Let me know and I will say whatever you want.

I am having a meeting this week with my 300 foreign policy advisors. I will be spending the rest of the year trying to figure out what to do. I myself, have no clue, as I guess you all have surmised.

Posted by: snObama | July 28, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I have a hunch that Churlish John will try to mute the Obama thunder by announcing his Veep pick just prior to Barack's birthday and the Summer Olympics...and that he will choose Joe Lieberman, pseudo-Democrat and ear-whisperer, in an attempt to syphon away dissafected Democrats, Independents, Jews and Hillary supporters from the Obama juggernaut...at which point, we have the delicious possibility of having Obama select Chuck Hagel, to block, and assuring Lieberman a place in Ripley's Believe It Or Maybe...the ONLY vice-presidential candidate in the history of the United States to have lost the election to the vice-presidency in BOTH major political parties!

Posted by: Pete Tenney | July 28, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

now that I have foreign policy experience, and a whole week is more than I expected to have by this point in my career, can I get back to my waffle (ing)?.

Posted by: snObama | July 28, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Spectator2 | July 28, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I was right about the surge, nevermind that I was wrong about going into Iraq in the first place. You know though, that 16 months sounds like a reasonable time horizon, except when the other guy talks about it. I'd talk more about the economy, but I can't make up my mind over whether the budget will be balanced by the end of my first term, or my first year in office. But we'll win in Iraq, and we'll prove we've won by keeping our troops there indefinitely. If we've won, why would we bring them home? Iraq is nice at this time of year - and all times of year, especially in bulletproof vests.

Posted by: McCainiac | July 28, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

"August 7th is Obama's Birthday, it would not be suprising for McCain to announce his pick by the 5th of August, to keep the press from covering his age."

Perhaps the McCain pick might come closer to his own birthday. Since it is not only the day his odometer lurches forward, but also the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, something McCain might find himself being tied to.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 28, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I just want to state plainly for the record, that I am still against the surge. when you are in a military situation, the option I choose is always surrender and retreat. Adding more tropps is a path to failure. Stop asking me questions about this, I have no good answer and will continue to evade and tap dance around my "judgment".

On the other hand, if it can get me votes, I think a surge in Afghanistan is a perfect way to prove I have no basis for my values and beliefs.

Posted by: snObama | July 28, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

If I can't take my cameras in and pretend to be a real friend of the military, then I have no use for visiting wounded soldiers. I think I'll shoot some hoops instead.

Posted by: snObama | July 28, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Stephen writes:

August 7th is Obama's Birthday, it would not be suprising for McCain to announce his pick by the 5th of August, to keep the press from covering his age.

------------

The only problem with this theory is that Obama was born on August 4. Perhaps that means an August 3 announcement from McCain, then?

By the way, Barack Obama will be turning 47. I think it will be interesting if this comes as a surprise to voters after all the unquestioning media language that he is a "young man". He would in fact be older than Bill Clinton was when Clinton became president.

If someone wants to call me a "young woman" at 46, I'll take it, but I would be surprised. I accepted a few years ago that the mid-40s are, though I hate to say it, middle-aged. But while our post-boomer generation may not be new on the scene, we do have the wisdom of our experience, the drive to get things done, and still some measure of the vigor of our youth. It's not the worst age for a top executive.

Posted by: Fairfax Voter | July 28, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

The winner of the Who Won the Week comments just cemented the Washington Post's rep for being an Obama shill. Of all the thoughtful comments, to pick one that calls McCain vicious and bitter when there is zero evidence to back it up is ludicrous. Tell me you pick them out of a hat. I'd like to believe it was a random pick as opposed to your evaluators really feeling a McCain attack piece was the best comment. I didn't comment, so there's no sour grapes on my part. Just a bit of sadness over the state of journalism today. Rewarding McCain attack comments instead of some of the reasoned, intelligent commentary that was submitted is just sad, just plain sad.

Posted by: JerseyBoy | July 28, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

August 7th is Obama's Birthday, it would not be suprising for McCain to announce his pick by the 5th of August, to keep the press from covering his age.

Posted by: Stephen | July 28, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I'll bet BHO's campaign has picked over the Olympic schedule to see when each event final that an American has a legitimate shot at winning a gold medal is being held.

His VP selection will probably come on August 20th -- after most of the swimming, before beach volleyball and basketball, and only 3 track & field finals that day (though one of them is the men's 200M final).

Posted by: mnteng | July 28, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I could see the McCain campaign announcing a VP selection soon, if Obama continues to maintain the spotlight gap. They need to establish some positive momentum - and their candidate doesn't seem to be producing any. Perhaps a VP candidate will...

Posted by: bsimon | July 28, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

"COUNTER-PROGRAMMING" OLYMPICS WITH VEEPEE PICK...
A GOOD WAY TO GAIN MAX MEDIA ATTENTION

I agree with P Diddy: Barring a huge news story out of Bejing (which is quite possible, but it's like predicting the next disaster), media outlets other than NBC would salivate over the chance to step on the Olympics.

As someone who has covered the business of sports, I can tell you that apart from the opening and closing ceremonies, there are many hours of coverage that do not fare all that well in the ratings. The candidate who carefully monitors the Olympics will make his announcement when Bejing is sleeping. He'll have a good 12 hours to monopolize the media spotlight; if there's no uprising or riot or such in Bejing, the spotlight will shine bright for 24-48 hours.


IF YOU VALUE DEMOCRACY AND THE RULE OF LAW,
EXPOSE STATE-SUPPORTED "VIGILANTE JUSTICE":

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/get-political-vic-livingston-opinion-expose-state-supported-vigilante-squads-doing-domestic-terrorism

Posted by: scrivener | July 28, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

bondjedi finds it interesting that The Fix thinks McCain's pick will need more than a day to "lavish in the resultant press coverage," since it will be a yawner, assuming the choice is one of the blow-dried, stuffed shirts being discussed.

If McCain wants more than a day of coverage, he needs someone with star power. If the Republicans had anyone with that much star power to begin with, he or she would be the nominee, not McSame.

McSame needs to pick Brad Pitt, George Clooney, or Spencer from "The Hills" if he wants more than a 24-hour bounce.

Posted by: bondjedi | July 28, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

and I agree with Michelle...
nice hat.

Posted by: dl | July 28, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

chris

if McCain is picking Pawlenty (which I still think it is Romney)

then he will wait...this week they are coming out with the numbers/statistics on the national infrastructure and bridge disrepair...and how much it will cost and how bad the situation is

if it's Pawlenty that is one of his achilles heels...

(Minnesota bridge collapse after he hurt the states infrastructure with too aggressive tax redusction)

so you can count that McCaine would put as much space as he can betweenPawlenty and those numbers being announced...

and to be honest
Romney has issue with that...he screwed up with Mass and their infrastructure too... (remember the big dig death ...not his "fault" but there is some accountability) and left the state with huge problems with their roads and transportation budget.

Posted by: dl | July 28, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

And there is a weekly 2008 Presidential Election poll at http://www.votenic.com so see what America thinks. NEW VP POLL!

Posted by: Brandon | July 28, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

The NFL, a bunch of multi millionaires who could care less about the fans or the sport in general.
======
People in the United States still watch and care about the Olympics??? I'd rather watch preseason NFL. Well, except for Women's Beach Volleyball and Women's Soccer.

I think that all the networks apart from NBC would LOVE the counter-programming offered by a VP choice from either side. They could go 24x7 bloviating about the nominees on both sides, and would never once have to mention even one word about the Olympics.

Besides, the narratives and point/counter-points are already set for the talking heads:

McCain: does he still have a chance?
Obama: will the choice win over the Clinton voters?

Posted by: P Diddy | July 28, 2008 9:59 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 28, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Should add that the only thing about the Olympics that could overshadow a VP selection is, as Whig alludes to, if Beijing does something remarkably stupid in the face of a protest.

Posted by: P Diddy | July 28, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

People in the United States still watch and care about the Olympics??? I'd rather watch preseason NFL. Well, except for Women's Beach Volleyball and Women's Soccer.

I think that all the networks apart from NBC would LOVE the counter-programming offered by a VP choice from either side. They could go 24x7 bloviating about the nominees on both sides, and would never once have to mention even one word about the Olympics.

Besides, the narratives and point/counter-points are already set for the talking heads:

McCain: does he still have a chance?
Obama: will the choice win over the Clinton voters?

Posted by: P Diddy | July 28, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Unless you're affiliated with NBC, it seems like the Olympics aren't such a big deal this year. I typically look forward to the Olympics, but this year seem to be only reading articles about the pollution, lack of press freedom, etc. The Olympic coverage this year -- save for a few compelling storylines -- certainly can be overshadowed by a McCain VP pick in the US and internationally with an Obama pick.

http://www.modernwhig.org
The Modern Whig Party -- For the rest of us

Posted by: Whigs | July 28, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I think your dates are off... Aug 1 in St. Paul????

Posted by: Anonymous | July 28, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Obama has no need to name his veep pick early. he's ahead and not desperate for media attention so there's nothing really to gain from doing so. to me it seems like Evan Bayh is the obvious choice.

Mccain would be wise and listen to karl rove and wait. naming a running mate early smacks of desperation. If you look at the names out there; is there any republican veep choice who is gonna generate enthusiasm and sustained buzz? not likely.

Posted by: Timmy | July 28, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Nice hat!

Posted by: michelle | July 28, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

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