What started out as a humorous suggestion by radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has turned into real-life political intrigue as Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain says he’d entertain the idea of being Democrat John Kerry’s running mate.
Sen. Jon McCain, R-Ariz.
“John Kerry is a close friend of mine. We have been friends for years,” McCain said today when pressed for comment about a Kerry-McCain ticket. “Obviously, I would entertain it, but there is – I see no scenario, no scenario, no scenario where – I foresee no scenario where that would happen.”
“When you say, ‘I’ll entertain it,’ that means something,” Limbaugh explained today. “How many denials do we hear before people accept things?”
“It’s impossible to imagine the Democratic Party seeking a pro-life, free-trading, non-protectionist, deficit hawk. … They’d have to be taking some steroids, I think, in order to let that happen.”
There’s been plenty of speculation in recent weeks about Kerry’s choice for a running mate, now that he’s the expected Democratic nominee.
Limbaugh was among the first to jokingly suggest McCain could be the choice for the No. 2 spot on the Democrats’ ticket, due to the “maverick” positions the Arizona senator has taken on some issues in the Republican Party.
“McCain will make Kerry more electable,” said Limbaugh. “Stop and think of that. You’ve got to go outside the party and get McCain, who lost to Bush in the 2000 [race], to make your guy more electable!”
But the mention of McCain’s name has taken on a life of its own, making the rounds on many political shows.
On “Judy Woodruff’s Inside Politics” on CNN last night, Chuck Todd, editor of the Hotline, said he has not been able to get the McCain possibility shot down.
“Of course, there’s all sorts of conspiracy theories as to why it wouldn’t be shot down,” Todd said. “One could be that Democrats fear that somehow Republicans are just trying to make McCain’s endorsement of Bush matter sometime down the road and make a bigger deal out of it and the other could be it’s just a way for McCain to make sure he gets some work done in the U.S. Senate. Who knows?”
Even two years ago, some in the media were pointing out the similarities between Kerry and McCain.
Marianne Means, a columnist for Hearst newspapers, wrote in May 2002 what the two had in common:
They are both distinguished naval officers who hold the Silver and Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. Born into prosperous, distinguished families, they are ruggedly handsome, plain-spoken and charismatic.
Kerry, at 6 feet 5 inches, is taller and more imposing, but then he’s taller than practically anybody. He’s got more hair than practically anybody as well.
In March he and McCain led a campaign in the Senate to reduce energy consumption by raising vehicle minimum mileage standards.
The measure failed, but they teamed up successfully to block another provision in the energy bill that would have permitted drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Meanwhile, McCain isn’t the only high-profile name being touted to run with Kerry.
“If Kerry wins in 2004, he will very likely seek re-election,” Morris writes. “The last time a president served four years and didn’t try to succeed himself was back in 1880 and the president was Rutherford B. Hayes. So, unless Hillary wants to try to mount the first successful challenge to a presidential renomination since Gene McCarthy forced Lyndon Johnson into retirement in 1968, she will have to sit out the 2008 contest.”
When asked if she was open to the idea of running with Kerry, Mrs. Clinton responded with laughter.
“You know, that is totally up to the nominee,” Clinton said. “And I don’t think I would ever be offered. I don’t think I would accept. Obviously, I want to do everything I can to see John Kerry elected president.”