Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

What’s going on with Obama’s VP search?

Back at the beginning of his VP search, Obama promised a maximum of discretion, saying, “The next time you hear from me about the vice presidential selection process will be when I have selected a vice president.”

And I guess that’s literally true; he hasn’t made any public statements about the search. But given how much we’ve been hearing all year about Obama’s disciplined, leakproof team, it’s puzzling how all these stories about the VP search seem to keep coming out.

First we heard all about the names they were discussing when they came to Capitol Hill (which, according to Ambinder, was part of the reason Obama let Jim Johnson go). There have been frequent updates to the so-called short list. A couple weeks ago there was a seemingly out-of-nowhere boomlet for Kaine, which seemed to vanish as quickly as it started. The following week came the joint appearance with Bayh. Then a line from Chuck Todd saying Obama’s pick will probably come from the short list.

This week, Steve Clemons claims that his sources in the campaign are telling him Bayh’s chances “have moved to better than 50/50”, and we have the announcement of convention speakers, launching a new round of guessing games (“Sebelius and Schweitzer already have speaking roles, but Bayh and Biden don’t!”)

So what’s going on here? Is the campaign suddenly springing leaks? Or is this part of a coordinated media strategy? (Certainly, both the Kaine and Bayh boomlets had the feeling of a trial balloon.) But if so, what’s the rationale behind the strategy? What are they trying to accomplish?

I don’t mean these questions rhetorically; I’m honestly stumped. Informed speculation, third-hand gossip and everything in between are all welcome in the comments.


August 14, 2008 - Posted by | Media Strategy, Veepstakes


  1. I think it has been trial balloons for the most part. Floating this stuff out there has gotten them quite a bit of media attention.

    Comment by turneresq | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  2. I think leaking the names started off as a way to introduce the country to some lower-profile Dems and give them a little press and prominence throughout the summer. I’ve learned quite a bit about some of the Democratic ranks that I never knew.

    But I quite expected that the VP would be announced before the Olympics after the meet-the-contestants game was over. As of right now we seem to be circulating the same names over and over to the point that we’re all a bit impatient. Whoever it is, we’ll be left wondering, “What was all the delay for?”

    I keep wondering if it will Clinton. That would make the most sense for delaying it as long as possible, for Obama to establish himself alone before bringing on a known quantity to stand alongside him, and she’d willingly keep mum for the summer to help raise the profile of other Dems.

    Comment by indythink | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  3. Some theories:

    1) Trial balloons

    2) Press attention during slow summer months to drive the narrative

    3) In the case of Kaine, trying to make him more of a known quantity

    In their defense, these last few days have just been more “process of elimination” because of the speaker schedules rather than actual leaks.

    Comment by dansac | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  4. it strikes me that if there was going to be a surprise candidate, one who might take some explaning, they would be prepping the netroots just to be safe.

    Comment by ksh01 | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  5. I really don’t think it’s going to be a big surprise.

    Comment by dansac | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  6. Reading between the lines after the last several weeks, I’d have to say he’s narrowed it down to Biden or Bayh. Clinton would have been a possibility too, but I think with the reminder again this week of her inept executive abilities in running her campaign she would be open to criticism of “not ready to be President if needed.”

    Or we could all be totally wrong, and they may unveil a “surprise” candidate like Richardson or Colin Powell.

    Comment by Carrie | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  7. I hope he chooses Biden. Joe has more experience than anyone in or out of Washington concerning foreign policy. He’s been there; done that. We need him as VP.

    Comment by Ed Neinabor | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  8. I would hope that after the Maureen Dowd column that emphasized the inability of Hillary to run her campaign, that Obama would have enough sense to NOT select her as his VP. I still believe that she and Bill would ruin his administration.

    I hope he selects Biden since he needs someone who can put Lame Brain McCain in his place as far as foreign policy and the military are concerned. Someone who can stuff all McCain’s bull back down McCain’s throat.

    Comment by Debbie, Columbia, SC | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  9. I think the Obama strategy on the VP search is to confuse the media, which they’ve done quite well.

    Comment by smashartist | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  10. Obama is so smart not to share anything about a VP with the public. That’s his perogative and this keeps the vultures off a while longer.He has a true understanding of his opponent now. Sometimes we just have to applaude that !
    It seems we have been forced to hear all this untrue tear down of Democratic candidates .That gets old and I look forward to the day he reveals the news but I we can wait. More people are watching the other side for more dirty tricks and it looks bad for those who are into that type of politics . Pause and rest ,wait for the next shock wave to hit! Politics are going as usual around here ! Can you understand how tiring it is to have bad politics everyday? It isn’t what the Americans want. The only ones who do that are being paid to be “rable rousers”.
    There have been a lot of reversals just since the release of the truth on the stock market . We have seen a new war start. More conflict . Wait and see!

    Comment by lula | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  11. The smart money is on Paris Hilton.

    Comment by David | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  12. I am convinced that Obama is going to shock many by a choice of candidate that will be totally without precedent or expectation.

    Comment by Zoltan Fergulshuk | August 15, 2008 | Reply

  13. While there may have been a trial balloon or two, most of the stories about the VP search are entirely speculative and self-generated without any authoritative (or even tenuous) connection to the Obama inner circle. The summer is the slowest point in the campaign: the primaries are done, the voters aren’t yet paying full attention, even the candidates aren’t on the trail every single day. The “veepstakes” then becomes a kind of geek Olympics: a spectator contest for political rather than sports junkies. This is not a criticism of it; after all, this comment makes me a participant in the endeavour…

    Comment by Mr. X | August 15, 2008 | Reply

  14. psst…

    It’s going to be Tim Roemer.

    Pass it on.

    Comment by KingJebus | August 16, 2008 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: