There was an intriguing story the other day by Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times about the possibility and advisability of Hillary Clinton — should she become the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016 (a fair assumption) — picking a woman as her running mate.
The article acknowledged the arguments against such a move. Democrats have been losing white men in recent elections, and perhaps Clinton “would no doubt seek to balance her ticket” with that in mind, “including regional and gender diversity.” But, Steinhauer wonders, who’s to say an all-female ticket won’t work? Bill Clinton picked Al Gore as his running mate in 1992 even though they were both of a similar age and ideology and came from the same region. And, lest we forget, aside from 1984 (Democrats) and 2008 (Republicans), every major party presidential ticket has been comprised of two men, and not all of them won either.
(The article also notes, “There is no precedent for two women running together for the highest office in the United States on the ticket of a major party.” Well, of course. No woman has ever been the presidential nominee of a major party. For the record, it has happened with minor parties, most recently with the Green Party, which nominated Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente in 2008 and Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala in 2012.)
But women in politics is still a comparatively new phenomenon; we’re still at the stage where we count the number of women in the House (79), the Senate (20, a record), as governor (5) or lieutenant governor (11). We take notice that every leading political office in New Hampshire (governor, both U.S. senators and both U.S. House members) is held by a woman. For certain, the number of female presidential or congressional candidates will one day be a footnote or an asterisk. For now, that’s not the case.
As for Clinton’s potential VPs, the article lists three senators — Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), “the liberal fund-raising powerhouse;” Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), the “former prosecutor with made-for-state-fair charms;” and the “issue-grabber” Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.). Of course, Article II of the Constitution, as well as the Twelfth Amendment, makes it difficult for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates to be from the same state, thus likely ruling out a Clinton-Gillibrand ticket.
(Republicans faced that dilemma in 2000, when Texas Gov. George W. Bush chose Dick Cheney to be his vice president. At the time, Cheney was a resident of Texas; he hastily moved back to Wyoming, which he represented in Congress, to avoid a constitutional hassle.)
The article also mentioned N.H. Gov. Maggie Hassan as a possibility.
Needless to say, the importance of a vice presidential candidate is often wrongly magnified and misunderstood (see: “The Significance of the V.P. Pick,” Political Junkie, July 14, 2000). But two women on the ticket would force all of us to think differently.
See also: “Name That Running Mate” (Political Junkie, Nov. 12, 1999), “The Search for a Running Mate” (PJ, March 17, 2000), “Obama’s Possible Running Mates” (PJ, June 11, 2008), “The Veep Selections: Surprise, Surprise” (PJ, Aug. 11, 2000), “Running Mate Scorecard Since 1964” (PJ, Aug. 11, 2012),