Either the Barack Obama campaign really likes sending reporters on wild-goose chases on their VP choice, or they have become desperate for any Republican that might join the ticket. Yesterday afternoon, Politico reported that they’ve floated the name of Ann Veneman as a potential choice out to Capitol Hill allies — and sent them scurrying to Google her. Veneman served as Secretary of Agriculture — for George W. Bush:
Barack Obama’s vice presidential search team has floated the name of a member of President Bush’s first-term Cabinet, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, as Obama’s running mate.
The search committee, now led by Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder, raised Veneman’s name — among others — in discussions with members of Congress, two Democrats familiar with the conversations said.
The mention of Veneman’s name surprised Democratic lawmakers. The low-profile Republican was close to food and agriculture industries but clashed with farm-state Democrats and environmentalists during her tenure, which lasted from 2001 to 2004.
Surprised? One unnamed Democrat responded to the suggestion from the VP committee by asking, “Are you serious?” Not only does Veneman have no electoral experience and no name recognition, the Obama campaign has been hammering John McCain for his closeness to the current Bush administration. How can they McSame McCain if they have one of Bush’s Cabinet picks on the ticket?
The primary job of a running mate is to be ready to serve as President if, God forbid, the elected President dies or becomes incapacitated. How exactly does Veneman meet the criteria? She has no military experience, no electoral experience, and no legislative experience. She has more executive experience than Barack Obama, but Veneman used that to push deregulation, a direction that’s anathema to Democrats.
Team Obama wants to show unity by putting a Republican on the ticket, and this seems to indicate that Chuck Hagel has refused that honor. The “unity ticket” is nothing more than vanity anyway. It implies that the Democrats have no one qualified to serve as VP, and it’s not going to convince Republicans to support Obama. It’s show without substance, and perhaps especially so in Veneman’s case.
If Obama picks Veneman, some Green leaners might jump ship to Nader, and everyone will wonder about Obama’s decision-making process. As the initial reaction to this trial balloon shows, they’re already starting to wonder about it.