Tim Kaine’s stock as a potential running-mate for Barack Obama has dropped markedly in the last day, with the news that Mark Warner, Kaine’s predecessor as Virginia’s governor, will be the keynote speaker at the convention in Denver.
The thinking, widely repeated in the media yesterday and this morning, is that Warner’s selection effectively excludes Kaine from the V.P. hunt since the Obama campaign wouldn’t want two Virginians occupying the featured speaking roles on two consecutive convention nights. As Keith Olbermann put it on his MSNBC show last night:
Warner’s rising star might actually dim the VP chances for Virginia’s current governor, Tim Kaine on this simple theory. Warner speaks on Tuesday night, the vice presidential candidate makes his acceptance speech on Wednesday night. It is unlikely that out of the universe of possible speakers, two Virginia governors would be scheduled for major speeches on successive convention nights.
Here’s the problem with this thinking: It’s surprisingly common at conventions for the keynote speaker and the V.P. nominee to hail from the same state. Like in:
* 1984, when New York Governor Mario Cuomo delivered the keynote address that made him famous, followed a few nights later by the vice-presidential acceptance speech of New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro. Hell, Cuomo and Ferraro didn’t just share a home state – they came from the same borough.
* 1996, when Staten Island’s own Susan Molinari was Bob Dole’s handpicked keynote speaker at the Republican convention in San Diego, just as Molinari’s fellow New Yorker, former Rep. and H.U.D. Secretary Jack Kemp, was Dole V.P. choice.
* And while it’s not technically the same, it’s worth noting that Al Gore saw not problems in 2000 when, as the Democrats’ presidential nominee, he asked his fellow Tennessean Harold Ford Jr. to deliver the keynote address.
I agree with the consensus that has emerged in the media: Kaine is unlikely to be Obama’s running-mate. He lacks any meaningful national security and foreign policy experience and his resume as an elected official is about as thin as Obama’s. But there’s really no reason to assume that the selection of one Virginian automatically excludes another. Especially when you consider that this year’s keynote address will almost certainly be overshadowed by a certain junior senator from New York.