It's not breaking news that John McCain is far from the dream candidate of many Republicans. He may have a unique appeal to moderate Democrats and to some independent voters, but more conservative Republicans of various stripes find his history of compromise and his unorthodox positions troubling. A few hate McCain, but most just don't trust him and need some sign that they can expect him to be more than the lesser of two evils.
One of the neat things about the later phases of a presidential campaign is that the nominee has to pick a running mate, which gives McCain the opportunity to balance his ticket with someone who will appeal to the groups who don't much like him. It's an especially powerful choice, because McCain's recently released 1200 pages of medical records suggest that while he's healthy for someone with a frequent buyer card from the Mayo Clinic, expecting him to last 8 years may be unrealistic. There's a very real chance that whoever he picks as his Vice President will be much more than just a figurehead for the Senate and perennial garden society speechmaker. He might be the next Teddy Roosevelt.
Late last month McCain entertained several potential running mates at his Arizona ranch, including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Sam Brownback and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. McCain has brought on former White House Counsel Arthur Culvahouse to help pick his Vice President. Culvahouse and other advisers will be going through all of the potential candidates with input from lots of different sources. While they haven't officially solicited input from the public, they really ought to be listening to us too, and the folks at RightMarch.com have provided a convenient tool to send Culvahouse an email with your VP recommendation.
The form is set up with several pre-written letters you can pick from to recommend one of the top contenders, including Charlie Crist, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Sonny Perdue. It also has a space where you can type in your own letter, and even if you want to recommend one of the obvious choices, you're likely to be taken more seriously if you write your own letter, plus there's no reason why you can't offer up some brilliant alternative.
Here's the letter I wrote. I may have been a bit greedy to suggest two choices and unrecommend another, but at least my letter is original:
I'm using an automated form to send you this letter, but I'm replacing the pre-programmed text with my own words, so I hope you'll take me as seriously as I take Senator McCain's choice of a Vice Presidential running mate.I hope that Sen. McCain will seriously consider either Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina or former Representative J. C. Watts of Oklahoma as his running mate.
Both men would be great assets to the campaign and would balance Senator McCain with a younger running mate from the south.
Watts would appeal to African American voters and he is articulate, experienced and insightful. He also has a broad range of experience in the private sector. He would be a great asset to the campaign.
Sanford has been a brilliant and inventive governor, has executive and legislative experience and holds positions which would appeal strongly both to independents and to libertarians and Ron Paul Republicans. In my opinion Sanford represents the strongest future candidate for President in the GOP and McCain's most viable successor.
Either one would be a winning addition to the ticket and I hope you'll add them to the list of VP candidates you're considering. They would bring a lot more excitement to the campaign than most of the candidates which rumor suggests that you are currently considering.
I also hope that the rumors that Senator Lieberman is being considered are just wild media speculation. His addition to the ticket would have a devastatingly negative impact on Senator McCain's support among mainstream Republicans.
I have no idea how seriously Culvahouse will take my small amount of input, but if he's like other political operatives I've known, he'll at least have someone on his staff read the emails he gets and keep a count of the candidates in which the public seems most interested. Those which are unique and seem sincere might even get read by Culvahouse or even McCain.
You don't really even have to limit your suggestions to the Vice Presidential nominee. Tell them whatever is on your mind. Tell them how you think the country could be better run or which of his shortcomings McCain needs to correct. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. There are worse ways you could spend a few minutes at your keyboard.