John Nance Garner, who served as Vice President during Franklin Roosevelt’s first two terms, once commented that the Office of Vice President was “”Not worth a bucket of warm piss.” In 1960, when Lyndon Johnson became John F. Kennedy’s running mate, Garner told him, “I’ll tell you, Lyndon, the vice presidency isn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.” Given those comments, it is a wonder why so many people seek the position.
There is no defined process to becoming Vice-President. In the early years of our nation, the person who finished second in the presidential election was the Vice-President. Think of the interesting administrations we would have had if we continued with that process!
Since those days, Vice–Presidents have been chosen at the party national conventions. How one gets selected does not follow any particular pattern. Sometimes it has been for geographical balance, like Humphrey from Minnesota and Muskie from Maine or Nixon from California and Agnew from Maryland. However, the Clinton (Arkansas) and Gore (Tennessee) southern strategy deviated form that practices. Other times the second place finisher in the nomination was selected as George H.W. Bush with Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Political philosophy has also played a role in the vice-presidential selection process. In 1976, Gerald Ford was forced to select Bob Dole as his running mate to appease the conservative wing of the GOP. The conservatives had waged a strong primary battle with Ronald Reagan and they took the loss very hard. Similarly, George H.W. Bush selected Dan Quayle to also solidify the conservative base.
Sometimes the parties look for a gimmick. In 1984, the Democrats selected Geraldine Ferraro to run with Walter Mondale. They hoped that having the first woman on the ticket would help them prevail over the popular incumbent Ronald Reagan.
Then there was the case of Gerald Ford. He was selected as Nixon’s Vice-President after Spiro Agnew resigned and was approved by Congress. When he rose to the presidency after Nixon resigned, he chose Nelson Rockefeller, who also had to be approved by Congress. America both had a President and Vice-President who had not been elected by the public.
The road to Vice-President is as varied as the Veeps themselves.
It is said that one does not run for Vice President and given the examples above, that is very true. It has often been observed that anyone who does try to “run” for Vice President, such as NJ Governor Hughes in 1968, is never successful.
So you can’t run for Vice President. But can you audition?
That appears to be what Governor Chris Christie is doing. In the couple of weeks, Christie has been to Iowa and New Hampshire on Mitt Romney’s behalf. In the past few days he has chided President Obama about his lack of leadership with the Super Committee. He has criticized Newt Gingrich for having “never run anything.” And, he is the head cheerleader for Romney at every GOP gathering he can get to. On Sunday’s McLaughlin Report, Charles Krautheimer said that Christie will be the vice-presidential candidate whether Romney or Gingrich wins the nomination.
Because of his tough talk to the unions, his in-your-face attitude and his combative personality, Christie is the darling of the GOP conservative base nationally. Of course, they might not be so excited if they lived here. That aside, Christie’s personality and temperament are the complete opposite of the “bland” and “moderate” Romney. Christie can fire up a crowd and throw the bombs with the ease. More important, UTube loves him.
Some may question whether or not Christie really has the “conservative cred” to solidify the right-wing of the GOP for November 2012. Property taxes are still rising in NJ – much higher than the bogus 2% cap. Christie has bonded without voter approval and allowed tolls to increase. He is weak on immigration and gun rights which are issues that the GOP base possesses very strong opinions on.
As for a pairing with Gingrich, it is difficult to imagine what Krautheimer was thinking. Christie did slam him for never having run anything, but until January 2010, neither had he. They both have been all over the lot on energy policies and neither of them have a problem with changing positions whenever they want. And, let’s face it, Newt has proven his ability to throw barbs at his opponents, unlike Romney, he does not need an attack dog.
In reality, Christie’s Northeast base could be an asset to any candidate. He receives a lot of coverage for the New York and Philadelphia media, and Pennsylvania will be critical to the GOP winning the White House. Obama will rely heavily upon union support for his re-election and there is no better union-assaulter than Christie. Finally, this will be an expensive campaign. Obama plans to raise $1 billion. Christie is the top drawing card for any GOP fundraiser in America.
It comes down to three things:
1. Will Christie’s conservative credentials (such as they are) hold up for 11 more months?
2. Will people continue to respond positively to his caustic comments and attacks?
3. Will Mary Pat let him run?
If Christie gets three “Yes” answers, then Kim Guadagno will have to start looking for a running mate.
Of course the real question is; will Christie be a bucket or a pitcher?