Politico keeps asking VP questions, and like a moth to a flame, I can’t resist answering. Here is my answer to the question of whether or not Biden is a PR disaster
Considering the amount politicians are required to speak, it is astounding that there aren’t far more verbal missteps by politicians.
True, Biden appears more prone to these gaffes then others, but this is relative. In his 2008 debate with Palin, Biden handled himself masterfully – demonstrating that he was a seasoned, experienced figure – without appearing to bully Palin.
It is a guarantee that every candidate on both tickets will make verbal miscues. Sometimes these mistakes end up shaping a public image as in the unfortunate cases of Sen. Dole in 1976 or Quayle in 1988. Because Biden has a reputation for them, in a sense he is insulated from their fallout.
Chasing Biden this way may be a distraction when the Republicans should be making their case on the issues that will decide this election.
I’ve written on this before, but considering how much politicians have to speak and the extent to which they are observed it is incredible that there aren’t many more gaffes. For that matter, several of Biden’s mis-steps in the video in the link above are pretty minor things that could happen to anyone!
Besides, VPs are almost always used in the campaign to rally the base, which often appreciates the mis-steps, remember the Republican base loved Spiro Agnew (even though Nixon couldn’t stand him.)
Portman’s ComplaintAs long as we are talking Veep, the Washington Post has a big article on VP potential of Ohio Sen. Rob Portman. Based on resume, Portman is a great fit for Romney as governing partner. He has been a White House staffer, congressman, US Trade Representative, OMB chief, and now Senator. Romney will need someone who knows DC and Portman fits the bill. The article made him sound even better, noting that Portman played the opponent when Cheney and Bush prepped for their debates. He did a good job, studying hard and helping the candidates anticipate the other guy’s tactics. Presidents don’t necessarily need another strategist or policy advisor, they need someone who has a strong sense of exactly what they are dealing with and can help them deal with it. As mentioned above, a minor mistake can become media fodder for weeks and a real distraction. Another politician can help see things that a staffer or policy wonk might not.
The problem with Portman is that he is considered boring. This gets into how we grossly caricature our politicians (as discussed above). Politicians must be charming and likable to be effective at all. The ones who are described as boring might still be the most impressive people most of us would ever meet. Remember, the worst hitter in the major leagues was a star of his high school team and would lead a typical company softball team to victory after victory.
Cross-posted from Veepcritique
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