Vice-President Bloomberg?

Michael_R_BloombergSo, it’s Super Tuesday in the US, and thoughts turn to just how this Presidential race might turn out. It’s looking increasingly likely that tonight will put the two leading candidates for their parties into near-locks on their nominations, so how does a Clinton vs Trump race play out.

One choice both candidates will have to make is a Vice-Presidential running mate. Trying to guess what Trump would do here seems like a fool’s errand, as conventional political wisdom doesn’t apply to his candidacy and the prospect of him whittling through randomly chosen candidates in an Apprentice-style format seems as likely as him making a rational choice of someone to balance the ticket, but Clinton has interesting options.

The three names I’ve seen suggested most often for her running mate are Housing Secretary Julian Castro, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. All three have strong cases to make for the nomination, but I find myself wondering if former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg could also be an option for her.

There are two obvious obstacles to Bloomberg being on the ticket. First, he’s from New York, the same as Clinton, so it could cause trouble in the electoral college (electors aren’t allowed to vote for a President and Vice-President from their own state) and secondly, he’s currently an independent, rather than a Democrat.

The first would be relatively easy to overcome. In the same way Dick Cheney switched his residence from Texas to Wyoming in 2000, Bloomberg could name one of his other homes – possibly in Colorado – and avoid that problem. The second is perhaps more of a problem for the Democratic Party than the electorate as a whole, but the Clinton response could well be to point out that Bernie Sanders was also an independent until recently, and that didn’t stop him from running in the primaries.

They’re also offset by the advantages he brings. Most notably, there’s the $40 billion he’s worth, including the billion he’s hinted at using for an independent presidential campaign, which also serves as a great deflater of Trump’s ‘I’m a businessman, I know how to make deals’ argument. Trump started with millions from his father, and all his noisy deal-making hasn’t outperformed what he could have achieved investing it quietly. Bloomberg started with little and turned it into a fortune that’s around an order of magnitude larger than Trump’s.

He’d also give Clinton a strong appeal to independents and moderate Republicans turned off by Trump and open up the prospect of her getting not just a victory but a blowout, with all the coattail effects that might mean for Democrats getting control of the Senate and House of Representatives as well as the White House. It would be a very tempting opportunity for the Democrats to take advantage of the turmoil in the Republican Party by selecting a running mate who can hammer a wedge into a potentially split party.

There are downsides with Bloomberg – he’s a Wall Street billionaire with little experience of politics outside New York City, and open to lots of attacks – and there’d be a big question over how much power Clinton would have to promise the Vice-Presidency to get him to agree to run, so it’s not a simple choice for Clinton to make. However, I think he’d be a strong option for her choice, and I wouldn’t be surprised if speculation about him joining the ticket rises as discussion of his potential independent bid fades away.

It might not be all over for Joe Biden

BOCA RATON, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at the Century Village Clubhouse on September 28, 2012 in Boca Raton, Florida. Biden continues to campaign across the country before the general election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
BOCA RATON, FL – SEPTEMBER 28: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at the Century Village Clubhouse on September 28, 2012 in Boca Raton, Florida. Biden continues to campaign across the country before the general election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Biden won’t be making a third bid for the US Presidency, and the assumption is that his political career will come to an end in January 2017 when his second term as Vice-President ends.

There is, however, a way it can continue and not just in unlikely scenarios where a weary Democratic National Convention turns to him to break the deadlock between a faltering Hillary Clinton and a not quite surging enough Bernie Sanders. It comes in a simple omission from the US Constitution: the 22nd Amendment limits any holder of the Presidency to no more than two terms in office, but no such limit is placed on the Vice-Presidency.

It looks increasingly likely that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for President, while the prolonged Republican flirtation with Donald Trump and other odd figures from the fringe right continues unchecked. That would give Clinton a great opportunity to reach out to moderate Republican voters and try to draw them over which would bring benefits to other Democrat candidates in Senate, House and state races. For many reasons, Hillary has problems reaching out to those voters but what if she chose a running mate with a proven track record of bipartisan action and who has received great praise from Republicans for his work? A Clinton-Biden ticket would be a huge positive for the Democrats, and give them the opportunity to win back lots of electoral ground from the Republicans. There’s even precedent for it – George Clinton was Vice-President for both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, while John C Calhoun served for both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.

And if Biden doesn’t want to do it, there’s another former Vice-President out there who might be interested. There might even still be some Clinton-Gore campaign materials left to be recycled…

2015 General Election Day 14: Not making any dramatic commitments

A late post today because I’ve been out for most of it (in London seeing The Commitments, if you want to know) so perhaps not been given the election my full and undivided attention.

We’ll start with today’s dip into Election Leaflets which also gives us the first (and no doubt last) instance of a new feature: Candidate Nominative Determinism Of The Day. This is won by the Conservative candidate in the Highland constituency of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, one Edward Mountain. I expect the ‘Winner Climbs Mountain’ headlines are already drafted for the post-election coverage.

Further south, long term followers of British political blogging may like to note that the original blogging Tory Boy, Peter Cuthbertson, is now the Conservative candidate for Darlington.

Elsewhere, we find that David Cameron is continuing to prepare for the debate he won’t be having with Ed Miliband, by becoming the only party leader who won’t meet with Joey Essex. It’s starting to feel like Alastair Campbell may actually be right for once when he asks if Cameron’s heart really is in it. I do worry if his equivalent of Liam Byrne’s letter is already written, only this time there really is no money – or anything else – left.

Some useful information now available on Your Next MP, including this very interesting list of the number of candidates being stood by each of the parties. There are a couple of glitches in it, but plenty of interesting parties standing across the country, and definitely some stuff there to write about. Hopefully, I’ll have the time to feature a minor party of the day in these roundups after today. The list also has details of all the parties registered with the Electoral Commission who aren’t standing candidates, containing everyone from 2015 Constitutionalists UK to Yourvoice, the latter of whom are probably still smarting from the £5000 deposit they lost after getting a little more than 0.1% of the South East vote in the European Parliament election last year.

Finally, not a good day for Tories being asked questions. George Osborne doesn’t seem to know where the money to fund his pledges is coming from, while here in Colchester an attempt to get a straight answer about a dogwhistling pledge from the Tory candidate to replace me on the Council got a rather obfuscating response. That sort of response doesn’t really work round here, and so we discovered that our local Tory candidate is fully supportive of his local friends’ rather nasty promises.

Starting tomorrow, we finally get the parties remembering that they ought to publish their manifestos sometime before people start voting, and with postal votes going out soon they can put it off no longer. I’m not expecting to find out too much new when they do come out as the big headline announcement about Labour’s is that they’re now ‘a party of fiscal responsibility’. You can see why people are more excited by Hillary Clinton’s announcement that she’s running for President than anything that’s going on in our election campaign.