When you’re right, you’re right, and Rick Perry today got veepstakes exactly right:
The announcement of Mitt Romney’s running mate won’t do much to change the dynamics of the presidential race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday.
Perry said the running mate pick will likely grab headlines for a couple of days before the focus of the race quickly shifts back to the choice between Romney and President Barack Obama.
”There are great and talented people out there, but vice presidential candidates are interesting choices that will probably only make two or three days worth of news, unless they make some huge gaffe,” Perry told CNN.
That’s exactly right, in all respects. I’ve discussed this before, but we’re getting fairly close now so it’s worth repeating the basic points. The running mate won’t be the focus of the campaign, and won’t do much beyond perhaps helping the ticket a point or two in his or her home state. Unless that running mate turns out to be excessively gaffetastic or scandal-ridden. And even then, the pick has to be pretty awful to really matter to the November vote.
That doesn’t mean, I’ll point out again, that the veepstakes is irrelevant. After all, the winner winds up a significant national figure. If the ticket wins, then the winner is vice president, with a very good chance to be president someday, or at least a presidential nominee. So it’s important for that alone.
And there’s more: Veepstakes is part of a political party defining itself. For example, we’ve seen that there’s an absolute veto in both parties on the issue of abortion (at least on current positions on abortion; it’s not clear how much leeway there is for converts). That tells us something about how influence is distributed.
But, yeah, it’s unlikely to have much of an effect on the presidential campaign.