Political Aptitude Test

July 24, 1996


See The Answer


Schneider's Political Aptitude Test

By Bill Schneider/CNN

Who Would Be The Best Choice For Bob Dole's Running Mate?

A) Tom Ridge
B) James Baker
C) George Voinovich
D) John McCain
E) Carroll Campbell

And the answer is.... D. John McCain.

Dole needs three qualities in a running mate.

One: he needs someone whose qualifications are unquestionable. That's crucial for Dole who just turned 73, and Arizona Sen. John McCain passes that test. He has stature as a spokesman on defense and international affairs. He and Dole provided bipartisan support for the U.S. Mission in Bosnia.

Two: Dole doesn't want a convention fight over his nominee. That could happen if he chooses someone who supports abortion rights. On the other hand, he can't look like he's being pushed around by the religious right. McCain may be an ideal choice. He's acceptable to conservatives, though like Dole, he doesn't put social issues at the top of his agenda.

Three: Dole doesn't need balance, he needs excitement, someone who sharpens his message, the way Gore did Clinton's. Ridge and Voinovich offer balance -- they're governors of important states. They're Catholics -- Voinovich if pro-life and Ridge is a supporter of abortion rights. But they don't add much by the way of excitement.

Neither does Campbell, a former South Carolina governor who saved Dole's bacon in the crucial South Carolina primary. If Dole needs help in the South, he's really in trouble.

James Baker is certainly a man of stature. But he's the insider's ticket -- talk about an all-Washington ticket! McCain adds interest and excitement. He spent over five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He heightens Dole's central theme -- character, as in the newly adopted Dole campaign slogan "a better man for a better America." How about two better men for a better America"?

McCain has a few disadvantages, of course. For one, he's another senator, and one from a small state, Arizona, the most reliably Republican state in the union. Also, he's one of the so-called Keating Five, though he was never found to have done anything illegal or unethical. According to the Senate ethics committee, he just "exercised poor judgement."

Remember, Bill Clinton's biggest weaknesses are character and military credibility. Those would be the strengths of a Dole-McCain ticket. Two generations, two wars, two war heroes. That's a powerful message.

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