Show biz folks refer to it as a “cattle call” when open auditions are announced for a new movie or play and hopefuls come running.
Seems fitting to use the same terminology since everyone but your Aunt Susie has jumped into the 2020 race for the Democrat presidential nomination. Most Democrats are O.K. with the large field of names, hoping the “best” person wins. Well, you can always hope.
But, my question is this: Who’s running for vice president? Who wants that second spot on the ticket? Who’s looking at 2024 or 2028? And, you know some of them are.
No one I know can name all the candidates to date. There are several I’ve never heard of and we probably won’t see their names much longer. The winnowing process - lack of money and support - will take care of them sooner rather than later.
The field is hard to handicap. Most don’t have enough national political experience to be called “qualified” candidates. Biden, Warren and Sanders do. Maybe Klobuchar. But, a larger number are either governors, former governors, a mayor or two, some in their first terms in Congress and a couple of folks who like the idea of just running. Experience or no.
Barack Obama was a rarity as he jumped from the Illinois legislature to the U.S. Senate to the presidency in a series of quick moves. But, none of the congressional one-termers, so far, seems to have that possibility. They’re not able to “light the fire” Obama did.
There are some very able people in the field. Washington Governor Inslee is one. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Klobuchar have some good state and federal experience. All capable but short on foreign affairs and military issues. Important for a president.
Pete Buttgieg is a candidate with a name most folks can’t remember and even fewer can spell. Mayor of South Bend, Indiana. No prior national experience of any kind. Not someone who’d normally be considered a serious challenger. But - after listening to him and checking out some of his history - he’s getting a better welcome from some Democrats than you’d expect. Bright. Multi-lingual. Veteran. And seems to be catching on with younger voters. A “comer.”
When it comes to experience and background you’d look for in a presidential candidate, Biden tops them all. But, four things work against him. Age. An uncanny knack of verbally stepping on his own feet from time to time. The baggage all that 40 years of experience brings as he’s grown and evolved - as we all do - have put him on both sides of several major issues. And he was found guilty of some plagiarizing many years ago. All that is fodder for any opponent in a presidential race. When that opponent is certain to be Donald J. Trump, Biden could find himself on the defensive 24-7.
Two other names are worth considering for VP - Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke.
There’s a lot of talk these days that younger folks are looking for the new - the interesting - the next “big thing” in politics. You even hear it said that “older, more experienced” candidates should “move over” and make room for the “new faces.” Interesting talk but the plain fact is our national problems require some “gray hair” in the front office.
It’s obvious Castro and O’Rourke have captured a lot of attention with intelligence, grasp of issues, ability to “light up” a crowd and a kind of dynamism not often seen in our national politics. Both would seem to have bright futures. Either one would make a good vice president. And, maybe that’s just what they’re positioning themselves for.
Neither has the “seasoning” or broad experience critical for the next President. There’ll be a lot of wreckage to clear away and many fences to mend. But, four years of on-the-job training would make either a formidable candidate for the top job in 2024.
Or, possibly, either or both would make good cabinet appointees in a Democrat administration. Get on “the inside” and learn the finer points of making a success of some of the tougher jobs. Become part of the decision-making process at the highest levels. Get that good, broad, international exposure they both lack.
When you’ve got 10 or so serious candidates to consider, there are many variables and outcomes on the table. Democrats are just a couple of votes shy of taking over the Senate. If they can do that, if they can hang on to the House and IF they can win the White House, they’ll face some very tough times trying to straighten out the mess left by Trump, his terrible decision-making and his “rogues gallery” of a cabinet.
Democrats need a combination of experience and youth. It’s not just the top job on the line here. The subject of succession needs to be at the center of the 2020 choice.
So, a very important question to answer is - who’s running for vice president?