Dream Ticket Sounds Good to Many Democrats (Except the Candidates)

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Imagine President Barack Obama is preparing his first State of the Union message. Would he want Vice President Hillary Rodham Clinton tut-tutting with edits or suggesting how she could write it better? Would he want to hear Second Spouse Bill Clinton wax on and on about favorite lines from his own speeches?

Alternatively, would the poll-obsessed Clintons want to wake up in the White House residence in 2009 and read about Vice President Obama’s sky-high popularity ratings, and how they make her look like his stern old lady?...

“There’s not a chance,” Jon Ausman, an uncommitted superdelegate from Florida, said of a get-together by the two campaigns. “This has turned into a battle of egos, and strong personal animosity has slipped into this. Not to mention, the veep is usually a half-step or step in stature below the presidential candidate, and in both cases neither of them falls into that mold.”

But history has shown that politicians are willing to put aside animosities for the sake of victory. In 1960, John F. Kennedy found his running mate in Lyndon B. Johnson, the sitting Senate majority leader and an unrivaled force in Democratic politics. The ticket seemed unlikely up until the 1960 convention: Johnson’s allies had been critical of Kennedy and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, and the nominee’s brother Robert F. Kennedy loathed Johnson. But Kennedy decided at the 11th hour that Johnson could help him in the South and among the party’s senior statesmen.

More recently, Ronald Reagan picked George Bush in 1980 and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts chose former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina in 2004, even though the two sets of running mates were not great fits as ideological soul mates or personalities (and in Mr. Kerry’s case, associates say, he would probably have preferred former Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, or Senator John McCain of Arizona, now the presumptive Republican nominee). But Reagan and Mr. Kerry saw their choices as bringing balance and strengths to the ticket — and the first President Bush and Mr. Edwards did not fight their rivals to the convention.

“All of the arguments about how rivals don’t like each other would fall away if either thinks the other could help them win,” said Doris Kearns Goodwin, the biographer of Johnson and other presidents. “And Obama and Clinton do fit in a jigsaw-puzzle way. She brings women, older voters, blue-collar workers, Hispanics, and he brings elites, liberals, the young and the crucially necessary black vote.”

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