Some Democrats Still Talk Up McCain as John Kerry’s Running Mate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 15, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Some Democrats Still Talk Up McCain as John Kerry’s Running Mate

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 15, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Whether it is based on wishful thinking or inside information, every four years about this time, political insiders give their prognostications about what political heavyweights have the best chance to become the running mate of a major party’s presidential candidate.

In some cases, the possibilities are either media darlings or represent a prominent elected official’s wish list.

In this year’s speculation, one name continues to surface: Arizona Republican senator and former presidential candidate John McCain.

The media became enamored with McCain during his 2000 presidential campaign — replete with the "Straight Talk Express" slogan and McCain’s status as a Viet Nam war hero.

Never mind that McCain has ruled out the possibility and is the co-chairman of President Bush’s re-election campaign in the crucial state of Arizona — some leading Democrats are still taken with his perceived ability to reach out to both sides of the political aisle.

"I have totally ruled it out," the New York Times reports McCain saying in an interview on Friday.

Some leading insiders, such as Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist who once worked for Kerry, suggest a Kerry-McCain ticket would capture undecided independent voters.

Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska senator who some say is a possible Kerry pick, believes a Kerry-McCain ticket would transform the presidential race and promote "unity government."

"Senator McCain would not have to leave his party,” Kerrey told the Times. "He could remain a Republican, would be given some authority over selection of Cabinet people. The only thing he would have to do is say, ‘I’m not going to appoint any judges who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.’"

That’s where the problems come into play.

A representative of one leading pro-life organization told that McCain’s mostly pro-life voting record would never go over well with abortion advocacy groups.

The source said that neither Mary Beth Cahill, the former director of the pro-abortion PAC Emily’s List and Kerry’s campaign, nor NARAL president Kate Michaelman "are not going to let someone with that voting record get on the ticket."

Even McCain seems to agree. "It’s impossible to imagine the Democratic Party seeking a pro-life" running mate, McCain said in an interview with ABC News earlier this year.

Donna Brazile, who ran Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, echoed the concerns.

"McCain has not been pro-choice," she told the Times. "He’s not been out front on core issues that have defined the Democratic Party.”

But Kerry’s silence on McCain continues to fuel speculation. Reporters at a Kerry economic round table last month asked him about McCain. "I’m not commenting," Kerry responded.

Did that mean he was not ruling McCain out? "I’m not commenting," he repeated.