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July 6, 2004

The New York Post has taken the first unequivocal leap for the mainstream media and claimed an exclusive on John Kerry's VP choice. In an unsigned article, the Post claims that it has learned that Kerry has selected Rep. Dick Gephardt for his running mate:

John Kerry has chosen Rep. Richard Gephardt, the veteran congressman from Missouri, to be his running mate, The Post has learned. Gephardt, 63, a 28-year veteran of the House of Representatives, could be named by the presumptive Democratic nominee as the party's vice-presidential candidate as soon as today.

The Massachusetts senator was set to announce the winner of the veep-stakes at a rally this morning in Pittsburgh, according to several reports last night. With the July 26 Democratic convention in Boston looming, Kerry is looking for some advantage in the polls, and is hoping his choice of running mate will be the answer.

As I blogged a few weeks ago, he could do worse, although without a doubt he could have done better. Gephardt has long been known as the darling of organized labor, and also was one of the few candidates on the stump this year who supported the war in Iraq while campaigning for the Democratic nomination. Gephardt, unlike Howard Dean, is an adult and a veteran of national politics.

That's about as far as the good news will take Kerry. Gephardt reminds one of Lloyd Bentsen without the electric personality. He's a functionary, a bit more than a nonentity but far from dynamically attractive. In fact, he may be the only candidate who could inspire less enthusiasm than Kerry himself once they begin campaigning. Lest anyone forget, Gephardt has run for the top job at least twice and bombed both times. The highest office he's ever held is House representative, which only requires a majority in the smallest slice of electorate in national politics.

Which, of course, brings us to strategy, and it's apparent that no one in the Kerry campaign has thought strategically about this choice. Supposedly Gephardt will bring in the Midwest, but Gephardt couldn't even finish in the top 3 in Iowa this year, coming in behind two Northeasterners and a Southerner, not quite in that order. A recent Missouri poll -- sorry, can't find the link -- showed that Missourians favor John Edwards for VP over Gephardt. Gephardt has never tested his credentials outside of his own safe district in Missouri, choosing to remain in his House seat for his entire career. It's unlikely that Gephardt will be changing many minds outside of Missouri, and taking his home state is no cinch, either.

You can expect a minimal bounce in the polls with this selection, assuming that the Post has it correctly, but the Deaniacs will hit the roof at the Convention, as they widely and passionately detest Gephardt for his character assassination on Howard Dean in the Iowa primaries. That floor fight the Deaniacs promised may well erupt in Boston.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 6, 2004 5:36 AM

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