The vice president is often picked from the losers of primary elections; a person who can demonstrate that they have electability, but perhaps not the wide appeal of the front-runners. The role of the vice president does not necessarily make a campaign, but it sure can break one (see Sarah Palin and Thomas Eagleton). The GOP needs a strong vice presidential candidate who can complement their nominee while competing with Joe Biden for the favorable reception of Middle America.
As the GOP rolls into primary elections, the candidates coming up short will be the most likely vice presidential picks. Just what qualifies a good vice presidential pick versus a bad one? To answer this (and teach John McCain a thing or two), one needs to look at Joe Biden. Biden has become an important appendage of the Obama team, with a penchant for often being the likable albeit garrulous cousin. Obama would not have won the 2008 election without Biden, and he most certainly will lose in 2012 if he dumps the former senator from Delaware.
Vice presidents play an important part in rallying the vote (or decidedly transferring votes away) during campaign time. They are often the forgotten other, used to corral a certain type of voter to the ticket while still retaining a subsidiary role to the person running for president. It is the role they assume once in office that measures the effectiveness of the presidential selection. Vice presidential behavior, once they are elected, determines whether the choice of second-in-command was advantageous or damaging.
Biden was the right pick for Obama. Unlike past picks like lightweight Dan Quayle, who brought humiliation to George H. Bush; Spiro Agnew, who defined political corruptness; or the headstrong Dick Cheney, who decidedly pushed his superior into war, Biden has been nothing but supportive. Biden has been a rallying voice for the president’s progressive policies and a capable negotiator with the ability to reach across the aisle and push legislators to support their commander-in-chief. Biden has been more than willing to get his hands dirty, reinforcing and defending the president’s every move. Biden’s noteworthy advocacy defines the role of a true vice president by correcting and humanizing the often highbrow president.
Biden is Obama’s polar opposite, a much-needed foil to Obama’s deficiencies. What Obama lacks in experience, Biden makes up for with 36 years in the Senate. Born to working parents in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden has given Obama a blue-collared edge, as well as a feeling of warmth and personality that is decidedly absent from the cool-headed president. As a veteran of sorrow, Biden softens and personalizes Obama. His off-color remarks, which have rallied cries of protest and calls for resignation, are assets rather than gaffes. Democrats hollering for a role reversal with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be remiss in calling for this exuberant, energized vice president traded.
As the GOP begins to shore up their competing ticket, Biden is a shining beacon of how to choose the best supporter. He represents a vice president with no political motives, who is happy to assist and defend his boss. Biden poses no risks into Obama’s electoral equation and pontificates as the older, wiser brother to a young and battle-scarred president. On an electoral ticket, Biden presents the perfect contrast, a role any future Republican vice presidential candidate should try and replicate.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons