Monday, October 15, 2007

You Heard It Here First!

Each week I sit down at my computer and write about whatever suits my fancy on that particular day. Some days, it seems, nothing particular suits my fancy. On those days I write about… well, actually… nothing! I just sit down at the keyboard, and whatever comes out, comes out. It’s a column about nothing… sorta like the Seinfeld TV show used to be. Actually, it has been pointed out that those “nothing” weeks outnumber my “something” weeks about 10 to 1. Ten weeks of nothing, then one week of something.

This, however, happens to be one of the something weeks (if you count politics as something.) I have something to write about, and here it is:

I believe our Governor, Mark Sanford, may well be the next Vice President of the United States.

I should quickly point out that, even on the weeks like this when I write about “something”, it’s typically just my personal opinion… which is the handy thing about publishing your own newspapers. You can write whatever you want. (Publisher’s note: Since we know a lot of people who do NOT own newspapers, we let them write about their opinions, also. It’s called a Letter to the Editor, and anyone can write one about anything at any time… and we’ll print it!)

But I digress. Back to this week’s topic: Vice President Sanford.

Now, it’s no secret that, in addition to publishing a handful of small weekly newspapers, I also dabble in politics (which I regularly try to disclaim so as to avoid conflicts of interest.) So I get to hear a lot of the “inside story” from time to time. My conjecture that Sanford will be the next VP, however, is not based on inside info, but purely on my political instincts, and the various published reports I’ve read. Here’s how it goes:

First, let’s look at the likely GOP nominee for President. Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani is the current front-runner, and frankly, should emerge as the winner, because the whole point of the 2008 Presidential Election should be to choose the person best able to lead America through the next eight years of our long-term battle against terrorism. Rudy is the candidate who seems to have “proven” himself on this front, with his handling of his city post-9/11.

If any Republican can beat Rudy, it may be Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Why Romney? Simple: MONEY. He has lots of it, and can afford to pay to get his message to the voters with TV ads.

If either Romney of Massachusetts or Giuliani of New York becomes the nominee, they’ll be looking for a Southerner to put on the slate to “balance” the ticket. They’ll be looking for a running-mate with solid conservative credentials. And they’ll be looking for someone who is NOT in Congress, because the approval rating of Congress is currently at an all-time low. That pretty much leaves southern Republican Governors to choose from.

Of the handful of southern Republican governors – seven to be exact -- they’ll end up with Sanford.

First, he’s an economic conservative, more than a social conservative, which means he would not be in conflict with his running mate. (They’ll be looking for economic, rather than social, conservatism. The Republican base vote – the religious right – which they’ll need to be highly energized for the November election, will already be extremely motivated to “Stop Hillary”. So, there’s no need to put a social conservative on the ticket.) Second, he’s safe: no major scandals in his background (the product of a silver-spoon lifetime)… although the minor controversies will come out if he becomes the nominee. And third, he’s a FORMER member of Congress, which neither Romney nor Giuliani have on their resume. Voters want either their Prez or VP to have a little bit of congressional experience.

But reasons number four and five are the real clinchers.

Fourth is this: The VP nominee needs to be a southerner to help deliver the Southern states to the Red column in November. Any southern state will suffice. The most important “swing” southern state, however, is Florida... as we all know from the 2000 election. And as soon as he gets the VP nomination, Sanford can start claiming his home state of Florida again. Florida is one of the states around which national campaigns must build their strategy. Sanford can help deliver it to the GOP.

And reason number five: The South Carolina Primary!!! Our state’s early primary has a history of choosing the eventual GOP nominee. Every time since our first Republican Presidential Primary in 1980, the winner in the Palmetto State has gone on to become the nominee, because of the enormous momentum gained from winning only three days before other, bigger primaries. Winning South Carolina is the key to winning the nomination… even more so for a couple of Yankees like Romney and Giuliani.

For Rudy, winning South Carolina would stun the world and virtually guarantee smooth sailing the rest of the way.

Sanford, enormously popular among most of the Republican faithful (who love his non-stop bickering with the legislature, oblivious to the fact that his eight years of failure to cooperate is leaving our state exactly where it was when he took over: the status quo guaranteed by his unwillingness to sacrifice his own anti-establishment persona for the sake of accomplishing anything) is in a unique position to deliver a win to either Romney or Giuliani. With several viable candidates – McCain, Thompson, Huckabee and the two Northerners – none of whom have yet “pulled away from the pack”, Sanford’s endorsement in the weeks before our primary could probably deliver a win to either candidate. That is likely why Sanford is carefully courting each of the candidates, but focusing on Romney and Giuliani, the two who might need him on the ticket. Of late, he’s focusing on Giuliani, believing him to be the likely nominee, and the most likely to choose him as Veep.

My guess: Watch for Sanford to endorse Giuliani, and help him become the nominee, for which Giuliani would logically add him to the Number Two slot. (No, I’m not suggesting they would make a deal… more of an understanding.)

Of course, the hard part would be in November, 2008, when Giuliani would be called upon to defeat Hillary Clinton in order for Sanford to actually become the Vice President.

There you have it. Vice President Sanford. And you heard it here first.

The rest of the story, of course, is that our long-time friend, Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, would suddenly become Governor Andre Bauer.

And we’ll write about that another time.

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