Posted by James @ 9:56 pm on August 24th 2008

McCain surprise?

I have been thinking about McCain’s options with regard to a VP selection, especially after Mr. Obama’s selection of Joe Biden. I have wondered whether he would seek the reluctant Bobby Jindal for his youth, or one of his fellow primary contenders for their base supporters. I must say that the Mitthuckerudy option seems doomed to failure. Likewise, seeking a young politician for the sake of their youth is similar folly. Let’s face it, Obama is a unique “young” man in the political field. So what does McCain do? I can only think of one very reluctant man that would more than level the field, but would actually tip it deeply McCain’s way were he to be persuaded to join the ticket. That person is Colin Powell.

Powell is only slightly younger than McCain, so the “youth” factor would be out the window. However, Powell has at least a little support from every corner of the political landscape, and a lot of support from much of it. A McCain/Powell ticket would be a formidable team for Obama/Biden to tackle. The question is: Is it even possibility? Powell has been reticent about everything political for a long time. Could he ever be persuaded to jump into the cesspool of a presidential campaign? I have no idea, I am just thinking out loud.

What do you think? Is a McCain/Powell ticket an impossibility?


  1. Don’t think that Powell hasn’t been hounded by every primary candidate for President in the Republican party (and a good chunk of the Democratic ones) since roughly 1996. The specific dynamics are almost irrelevant. If McCain could ever, ever, ever get Powell, he would, in a heartbeat. He would have in June 2007, he would have in January 2008, he would have in March, he would now, hell he would probably drop his running mate in October of Powell expressed a hint of interest.

    But, the truth is, he hasn’t. And, by every indication, won’t. I can’t say never, because who knows, but I view it as at least as likely that Powell endorses Obama at the DNC and gives a convention speech there (remember, that is what Bill Kristol reported is going to happen, two weeks ago) as him being McCain’s running mate.

    The truth is we don’t even know if Powell is going to vote for McCain, much less endorse him. The scant evidence could go in literally any direction. We do know he’s good friends with Joe Biden, by the way—I even read a few Dailykos diaries with titles like “DNC Surprise?” suggesting Powell might introduce him at the convention.

    I find it hard to believe that, given all Powell himself has been through, and given how completely and totally he’s stayed out of electoral politics up until now, that he’d chose this particular cycle, with these particular candidates, to throw himself in the mix for. In short, James: you can’t say “never”, in regards to most anything. But it’s about as likely as McCain announcing Michael Phelps.

    I do find it funny that you’re assuming Powell would go McCain. It was suggested on this blog before that Andrew Sullivan, when mentioning the possibility of Powell endorsing Obama, got roundly decried as a loon who had lost his marbles for being so presumptuous and making such a leap with no evidence.

    Comment by Brad — 8/24/2008 @ 10:13 pm

  2. All that said, what is interesting to think about is if Powell would indeed live up to his reputation as being the World’s Most Popular Figure in Politics. He would undoubtedly be a big boost to McCain, but I’m not convinced that part of his draw isn’t precisely his mystique, borne almost entirely of his staying out of politics. I’m also not convinced that Powell would be unassailable. His tenure as Secretary of State, though noble in its way, was not exactly distinguished, and given that he’s got literally nothing else to qualify him, you better believe that would be the central issue. The only way Powell would get out of that without reinforcing the Bush’s third term theme would be to very publicly and clearly throw Bush under the bus. While Bush is still President. That is both risky given the rest of McCain’s themes (and given likely GOP base doubts about pro-choice, socially liberal Powell), and seems to go against the grain of everything we know about Powell and his sense of character.

    Comment by Brad — 8/24/2008 @ 10:20 pm

  3. I do find it funny that you’re assuming Powell would go McCain.

    I made no such assumption, Brad. I merely postulated that Powell would be McCain’s best VP hope at this point.

    I realize it is an unlikely scenario, but so is Powell offering Obama his endorsement, especially in a convention speech. I don;t think that is who Powell is.

    As for Powell being friends with Biden, Biden is friends with McCain who is no doubt a mutual friend of both. The only new guy at the lunch table here is Barack Obama. He came with a big spork, and old friends respect a big spork.

    Comment by James — 8/24/2008 @ 10:26 pm

  4. I don’t think Powell is a factor in this race in pretty much any capacity.

    Comment by Brad — 8/24/2008 @ 11:55 pm

  5. Powell promised his wife years ago that he wouldn’t run for office. She was very nervous about what a campaign would do to their family and about assasination attempts on a black candidate.

    Not sure if that’s the ever-churning rumor mill or something more substantial, but that story has been around for a long time.

    Comment by Liz — 8/25/2008 @ 12:13 am

  6. No, that’s from Powell’s own lips. From 1999 I think.

    I also think Powell might appreciate Obama a bit more than James might give him credit for. And I don’t mean just because he’s black.

    Powell put in his time. And I don’t get the impression that, from that experience, he has any more of a hankering to jump back in than he ever did.

    Comment by Brad — 8/25/2008 @ 12:31 am

  7. I actually had a thought much like this a few days ago. It would be an interesting coup/card for McCain to play and would certainly interfere with any post convention boost for Obama. However, I don’t particularly see it happening. It would be great fun politically if it did develop.

    I’m still quite frankly blown away by McCain’s polling at this point. It’s stunning to see the national polls where a generic Democrat beats a generic Republican by enormous margins and yet McCain is seemingly neck in neck with Obama. He shouldn’t be nearly this competitive. If I were a Democrat I’d be very close to pissing my pants.

    This just isn’t what should be happening this year. I still think Obama is on a fairly safe track for the presidency, but goodness he’s facing an unexciting old guy running a fairly dilapidated campaign and Obama can’t break levels even approaching a generic Democrat. This should have the left very worried.

    Once again, the Republican’s should be thanking their lucky stars they picked McCain. I can only imagine the trouncing any of the other candidates would be facing in the polls.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/25/2008 @ 5:17 am

  8. If McCain could get Powell, he’d take him in a heartbeat (and I think that Obama would have done the same). However, if Powell didn’t bite in the past I don’t think that he’d bite now, even if he did prefer McCain to Obama.

    Comment by Adam — 8/25/2008 @ 1:58 pm

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