Opinion: Some perspective as Joe Biden discounts his VP prospects


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It’s stakeout time in the ever-intensifying Democratic veepstakes game. NBC reporter Mike Memoli related that as Sen. Joe Biden left his Delaware home this afternoon toting his golf bag, he was asked where he was going to be on Saturday.

The question was spurred by the news that Barack Obama plans a Saturday stop in Springfield, Ill. -- site of his presidential announcement speech ages ago and, presumably, the site of a joint appearance with his newly-minted vice presidential pick.


But Biden didn’t rise to the top of the veep speculation list by falling for trick questions.

‘Here,’ he replied to Memoli and other reporters, pointing down to his driveway.

And as he pulled out of his driveway (at the helm of his car), he said: ‘You guys have better things to do. I’m not the guy.’

Maybe, maybe not; it’s in his best interests to play it cool.

Regardless, among the reams of copy we’ve read and thousands of words we’ve heard reflecting on the running-mate derby -- both for Obama and John McCain -- the most sage could be found in the very last paragraph of a New York Times story today. It’s a quote from Matt Bennett of Third Way, a Democratic Party advocacy group:

‘Vice-presidential candidates can make a marginal difference, but they rarely matter in terms of winning a state or region — as Mike Dukakis and John Kerry found out. And a weak candidate doesn’t really drag the ticket into the drink -- as George H.W. Bush found out.’

Dukakis, as is easily forgotten, picked Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen as his vice presidential nominee in 1988, and the ticket didn’t come close to carrying the Lone Star State.

Same result with Kerry’s choice four years ago, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina; the Democratslost that state by about the same margin as they had in 2000.

And the elder Bush, of course, won the White House in ’88 despite deciding, for reasons that still mystify, that Sen. Dan Quayle of Indiana was ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

-- Don Frederick