Analysis: Kerry's ticket to the White House

By CLAUDE SALHANI, UPI International Editor  |  March 10, 2004 at 1:56 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) -- Democratic front-runner Sen. John Kerry is sure to win his party's nomination for the White House, of that, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, there is absolutely no doubt. What is less certain, however, is him beating President George W. Bush come the November presidential elections.

You may argue that if the elections were to be today, Kerry would win. True. The most-recent polls, such as one released Tuesday by ABC News and the Washington Post places Kerry a comfortable 9 percentage points ahead of the sitting president. Nine percent is a very decent margin to have, considering the outcome of the 2000 elections and how few votes actually carried Bush to victory. And no, we're not talking about the Supreme Court votes, either.

But that would be if the elections were to be held today, which of course, we know they will not. Election Day is still a good eight months away -- about 240 days. Between now and November much can happen to upset the current order of things and place Bush ahead of Kerry, put Kerry back in the lead, and flip-flop the results once or twice again. It only takes a single day to change the equation.

One should not forget that the advantage always goes to the sitting president, at least most of the time. Bush pere, was one of the exceptions when he lost to Bill Clinton in 1992. So if you were to place bets, there are good chances that, despite what the polls predict, Bush fils, will come out victorious in November 2004.

Given the state of affairs around the world -- with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fight on terrorism -- it would not take much to give Bush the upper hand. Between now and November (say in mid-October, maybe) the elusive Osama bin Laden could be captured. That would instantly send Bush's popularity skyrocketing and could certainly help him win the election. Unfortunately for Bush, Saddam Hussein's capture came too soon. By November, it will be largely forgotten.

Kerry and his advisers, no doubt, are thinking all these possibilities through in their minds as they begin to ponder whom to choose as vice presidential running mate.

Many Democrats would like to see a Kerry-Edwards ticket. John Edwards, a senator from North Carolina would secure the senator from Massachusetts a good solid Southern base. The two Democrats looked friendly enough on the various televised debates they shared over the last few months until Edwards dropped out of the race.

Or maybe a Kerry-Clark ticket would be the ticket? Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, would bring his war experiences to the White House -- a useful tool to possess in time of war. Not that Kerry ever misses a chance to remind us of his Vietnam experience. Combined, Kerry-Clark would, without a doubt, form quite an impressive dynamic duo. Kerry-Clark, with their combined first-hand war knowledge, would be a step up on Bush's National Guard service in Texas and Alabama. The country is at war, after all, as Bush liked to remind the country during his interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" a few Sundays ago. What better team for a wartime presidency than a president and vice president with applied combat experience?

However, all the above scenarios come with a certain risk factor. The risk is that while a Kerry-Edwards, or a Kerry-Clark ticket will enthrall many Democrats, on the other hand, it will leave many Republicans, even those who disagree with the way Bush is running the country, feeling unable to vote Democrat.

So imagine this scenario. This is where Kerry drops the bombshell.

Kerry goes on national TV and announces that he will run as the president of all Americans. "America has been divided for too long," says Kerry in his deep, authoritative voice. Kerry says that unlike Bush, he can reunite the country. He will address all the burning issues troubling America: jobs, the economy, the environment, security, amend America's image with the international community, and so on.

Kerry then announces his choice for running mate -- a Republican!

Thought highly improbable, of course, that such an unthinkable course of event may come to pass in Washington, the result would offer Kerry of sure entry to the White House.

Republicans currently sitting on the fence, thinking that they don't want to vote for Bush but cannot get themselves to vote for a Democrat would find their problems instantly solved. Kerry would find himself an instant trove of precious votes coming from the other sides of the political aisle. Chances are Kerry's percentage points would suddenly jump by possibly another 10 percent or more, leaving Bush behind in the dust and a single term in the White House.

Of course, finding the Republican candidate willing to run on a Democrat ticket is not going to be simple. This is Washington, after all, not Tinsel Town.

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