Presidential candidates should look at history for VP choices

Political pundits have been in a lather the past week over possible vice presidential candidates. Will Obama ask Hillary? Will Bill ask Obama to ask Hillary? Will Hillary ask Oprah to have Obama answer Bill? Will Oprah ask Bill to look under his chair for a special prize? All this speculation over possible vice presidential candidates is wearing me out. I keep telling people to relax; there are many miles to go before such decisions need to be made.

Political pundits have been in a lather the past week over possible vice presidential candidates.

Will Obama ask Hillary?

Will Bill ask Obama to ask Hillary?

Will Hillary ask Oprah to have Obama answer Bill?

Will Oprah ask Bill to look under his chair for a special prize?

All this speculation over possible vice presidential candidates is wearing me out. I keep telling people to relax; there are many miles to go before such decisions need to be made.

And that’s a good thing. Historically speaking, people who have sought this nation’s highest office — I think it’s located in the Sears Tower in Chicago — have found it wise to take their time and consider many things while searching for a running mate.

The whole idea of a running mate bothers me, to be honest. If the Little Missuss ever takes up jogging and starts talking about a running mate, I’m going to hide in the basement.

When it comes to vice presidential candidates, we should let history be our guide.

Presidential candidates who have been thought of as mental lightweights by the voting public, for example, have often sought out people with impressive academic accomplishments to fill the number-two spot on the ticket.

Rutherford B. Hayes was one such presidential candidate. It wasn’t widely reported at the time, but Hayes intensively lobbied famed inventor Alexander Graham Bell to serve as his vice president.

Hayes actually made a personal visit to Bell at his laboratory in England and interrupted Bell as he worked on his latest experiment.

Despite an afternoon filled with effusive compliments — “You had me at hello,” Hayes told Bell — the inventor declined the offer to be on the ballot.

He wasn’t the first inventor to say no. Thomas Edison rebuffed James Garfield’s pleas for him to join the ticket.

“He only wants me to put his name in lights,” Edison complained to a family friend.

Other presidential candidates had their own litmus test for finding a vice president.

Grover Cleveland picked Thomas Hendricks because Hendricks could touch his nose with his tongue. Hendricks’ nose, not Cleveland’s.

James Sherman got on the ticket with William Howard Taft because he had a really cool boat.

Detractors in the yellow press called it the “Taft Tug,” but truth be known, it was a babe magnet.

Calvin Coolidge picked Charles Dawes as his right-hand man after Dawes set a world record in flag-pole sitting. Coincidentally, that’s actually how McCain became the Republican frontrunner earlier this year.

Due to a lack of experience with foreign affairs, Obama is looking for someone with military experience to put on the ticket.

I’d suggest Bazooka Joe. Another advantage as a VP running mate: He may attract Reagan Democrats who remember when Reagan said ketchup was a vegetable that could be put on lunchroom menus, and also made bubble gum one of the five essential food groups for kids.

Bazooka Joe would also have great appeal to younger voters, including those people who can chew gum and talk at the same time.

Others say I’m wrong, however, and point out those folks are already voting for Obama.

Next time: Do the bump.

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