BY WILLIAM KRISTOL –
Vice presidential picks don’t matter. Except when they do. If John Kerry had chosen Dick -Gephardt instead of John Edwards in 2004, and had then parked Gephardt in Ohio during the general election campaign to make the Democratic case to working-class voters, Kerry might well have won the Buckeye State—and the presidency. In 1992, Bill Clinton’s selection of Al Gore, a Southerner and hawkish, confirmed the notion that Clinton was a different kind of Democrat, and the successful Clinton-Gore bus tour following the convention helped lock in their huge post-convention bounce that put the Democratic ticket ahead for good. In 1980, Ronald Reagan’s selection of George H. W. Bush helped unite the party, minimizing the damage the renegade liberal Republican John Anderson could do running as an independent in the general election. It also showed Reagan as a confident and strong leader, willing to pick his toughest opponent as his running mate.
Of course, Kerry might have lost anyway. And maybe Reagan and Clinton were fated to win. But maybe not.