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Jewish World Review March 29, 2000 / 22 Adar II, 5760

Chris Matthews

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Gray for veep and Gore might coast to victory


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IN AMERICA, it's the Democrats who own the coastal real estate west and east.

Meanwhile, the great middle of the country, from the Rockies to the Carolinas, is Republican country.

The fight this November will focus on who controls the industrial states stuck in between: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan.

This is the disputed territory of partisan America. Democratic and Republican strategists now eye this area with the same mix of lust and jealousy that militant Indians and Pakistanis view Kashmir.

Both want it. Both think they need it. Both believe if the other side gets it, they win the game.

I predict that George W. Bush and his people will play this continental board game in the most obvious way, by picking his vice president from this partisan "Kashmir."

I predict Bush will pick Pennsylvania's governor, Tom Ridge, because of geography, history (he rose from a working-class background to attend Harvard and win a pair of Bronze Stars in Vietnam) and personality (Bush once confessed that he wants a running mate who "likes me." Apparently his fellow governor does).

Gore cannot play the same game for the simple reason that, with the possible exception of Illinois senator Dick Durbin, none of the disputed industrial states boasts a Democrat of sufficient stature to fill Gore's vice presidential shoes. Not Pennsylvania. Not Ohio. Not Michigan.

So the vice president needs to try a different gambit. He needs to win those big states in the upper middle of the country with a ticket that packs a wallop from coast to coast. He needs a veep who, by his current position and political resume, outranks even the man he's running against.

That candidate is Gov. Gray Davis, 58, of California. A graduate of Columbia law, he carries Ivy League credentials, as does Gore. He matches Ridge's Vietnam-won Bronze Star with one of his own. As governor of the country's largest state, Davis leapfrogs Bush's relentless bragging about being governor of the "second-largest state."

Most important, Gore-Davis would carry the heft of a truly continental ticket, a vice president running with the country's No. 1 governor.

For extra credit, a Gore-Davis ticket would provide the Democrats with the party's most formidable fund-raiser. It would make California the immovable anchor of the Gore campaign, turning out a huge Latino vote for the chance to make Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante the state's top executive.

Most important, it would make Al Gore look like a political heavyweight by refusing to fight over a single portion of the 2000 electoral map, the industrial Midwest, but instead choosing to sweep the board.



JWR contributor Chris Matthews is the author of Hardball. and hosts a CNBC show of the same name. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

Up

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03/22/00: 'We're suckers for underdogs'
03/20/00: Bush's California dream vs. reality
03/06/00: Scary Gore vs. hopeful Bush
03/06/00: McCain's appeal to 'Reagan Democrats'
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01/03/00: Dangers in Gore's dirty war
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12/17/99: Catch 22: Leading candidates don't lead
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12/08/99: Taking Buchananism to the streets
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08/11/99: Hillary's agonizing attempts to understand
08/09/99: With warm regards, Richard Nixon
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08/02/99: Dubyah's last hangover
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