lunes, 2 de julio de 2012

No son todos los que suenan, ni suenan todos los que son

Mitt Romney se está tomando un pequeño descanso hasta el miércoles en su casa del lago Winnipesaukee, en New Hampshire, lo que ha desatado las especulaciones. ¿Estará utilizando estos días para tratar con calma con sus asesores el tema del running-mate y tomar una decisión definitiva?

Mientras eso ocurre, nos avisa que en el juego de adivinar quién será el running-mate no debemos creer todo lo que leemos porque hay muchos nombres que se filtran interesadamente, tanto desde la campaña como desde el entorno de algunos políticos sedientos de publicidad:

Take House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. In 2008, he was a rising Republican star but still merely the chief deputy whip of the House minority. But he got a burst of attention in August when the Associated Press reported that he had been asked by John McCain’s campaign to turn over documents. Other news outlets, including POLITICO, quickly followed the news, reporting that Cantor was being looked at as a potential running mate.

This was the source of great bemusement to senior McCain officials.

“I remember seeing that story and laughing,” a top McCain aide recalled last week, the memory still fresh four years on. “To my recollection, [Cantor] wasn’t even on the public document list.” That’s to say, McCain’s vetters didn’t do a thorough search of news stories on Cantor, let alone ask him for personal information.

But that didn’t stop enthusiastic Cantor backers, who were determined to get his name among the mentioned. A longtime GOP strategist with deep connections to the party’s fundraising community said that a major, New York-based Republican donor actually launched a behind-the-scenes PR campaign to gin up buzz about a McCain-Cantor ticket.

(...) What enables the empty float is the lengths presidential campaigns now go to keep almost all elements of the search a secret. Political veterans date the cloak-and-dagger routine to the 1984 presidential campaign when nominee Walter F. Mondale had a parade of potential veeps tromp up his driveway in suburban Minneapolis, in full view of a camped-out press corps. The “Noah’s Ark procession to North Oaks,” as columnists Evans and Novak dubbed it, was subsequently seen as too open and unfair to the aspirants.
“By 1992, there was great sensitivity to not putting the potential candidates in an exposed position,” said Mark Gearan, who helped run Bill Clinton’s running mate selection and ultimately headed Al Gore’s veep campaign operation that year.

Gearan recalled renting a suite at the Capitol Hilton in downtown Washington under his wife’s name and spiriting VP prospects up through the hotel in a freight elevator. Gore himself was brought for an interview at 11 – in the evening. “We tried to do it in a more clandestine way,” said Gearan.

This hush-hush system has become the rule ever since and now the running mate prospects are judged not just on their qualifications for the job but also on their discretion.

“It was pretty clear how distasteful the then-governor would have found [open campaigning],” said Joe Allbaugh, George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign honcho. “They knew it would’ve resulted in immediate ex-communication.”

This is a far cry from the day when vice-presidential hopefuls would openly, if lightheartedly, make their case for the job.

In the days before George H.W. Bush tapped Dan Quayle in 1988, two also-rans were captured in the New York Times campaigning in ways that would be unthinkable today.
“I would be a terrific campaigner and a terrific candidate and a terrific vice president,” said then-Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) The former NFL athlete added: “I was a good second-string quarterback.”

Bob Dole, then the Senate GOP Leader, rattled off his merits in his typical shorthand: “Someone who can get him elected, first. Secondly, someone who can help him after he is elected — someone like myself. I know Congress fairly well. And probably most important, someone who could be president.” Dole jokingly added: “I left a message on my machine at home — it says, ‘I accept.’ “

Now, potential vice-presidents and their staffs will only do their lobbying privately or strictly off-the-record with reporters, ticking off their assets and their rivals’ shortcomings. In the modern vice-presidential kabuki dance, it’s not just bad form but potentially disqualifying to publicly campaign for the job.

“The invisible campaign that takes place around the process has changed because folks realize that if they’re a serious contender they can very quickly become disqualified by demonstrating the lack of discipline that can make them ill-suited for office,” said Michael Feldman, an aide on Gore’s 2000 campaign.

(...) Lee Hamilton, the former House member from Indiana and Democratic elder, learned that lesson in 1992 the hard way when he talked to reporters about having just met with then-Gov Clinton.

“I’ve been impressed that Gov. Clinton is a fast learner and seems to have a very sure grasp of foreign policy questions,” Hamilton, a senior member of the Foreign Affairs committee said. “I’ve spent a good bit of my time on that, and I hope I would be of some benefit to him.”

Bad move.

“The list was immediately reduced by one,” said a senior Clinton aide on that campaign. “Hamilton was never discussed again.”

(...) But being revealed as a runner-up is hardly the only vehicle to get attention in the veep game. There’s also the “you can’t fire me, I quit” technique, best demonstrated by then-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson in 2004.
This is the move where a would-be vice-presidential nominee publicly pulls out of the selection process, typically citing their undying commitment to their state or district.
In 2004, Richardson penned a literal “Dear John” letter to Democratic nominee Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) explaining that he promised his state to serve a full term as governor.

Doing so got Richardson a bit of attention and prevented him from being seen as passed over, thereby retaining his standing for a future run.
The truth of the matter?

“Richardson went partly through the vet, but he didn’t want to go through the rest of it,” said Shrum, a top Kerry official in 2004. “He just wanted everybody to think he was being considered.”

(...) Then Mich. Gov. John Engler was more subtle in his efforts to get in Dole’s good graces in 1996.
“I distinctly remember meeting Engler in a holding room in some godforsaken Holiday Inn and he was wearing a tie with a Kansas sunflower on it,” recalled a Dole aide that year. “He was pulling out all the stops.”
(...) And in fairness to the ambitious politicians who are happy to have their names mentioned even if they’re not truly being considered, they aren’t the only ones who benefit from strategic floats.

The campaigns will at times put out word that they’re looking at a prospect in order to appeal to a constituency. Gore said in 2000 that his final six options included then-New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in part because he was assessing her but also because he wanted to have a woman in the mix, according to sources from the campaign.

Being on the list is no guarantee of success. Some Democrats point to former Florida senator Bob Graham who was mentioned as a potential Gore running mate in 2000 but damaged amid reports that he obsessively recorded his minute-by-minute doings every day in a journal. Graham didn’t make it on Gore’s final list and the Floridian’s own presidential campaign in 2004 flopped. And then there’s former Indiana senator Evan Bayh, who was a bridesmaid in three consecutive cycles, 2000, 2004 and 2008, before deciding to retire from politics in 2010.

No hay comentarios: