Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Did Strickland Just Play Himself Out of the Veepstakes?

Huh. At the end of his Best Year Ever, Ted Strickland makes a rare political misstep. Strickland spent the weekend in Iowa campaigning for Hillary Clinton, his choice for the Democratic nomination. Yesterday the Dispatch broke a week-old interview with the Governor in which he publicly questioned the Iowa caucuses:

    In an interview with The Dispatch last week, Strickland said the Iowa caucuses make "no sense." He called the GOP and Democratic caucuses "hugely undemocratic," because the process "excludes so many people." Anyone who happens to be working or is sick or too old to get out for a few hours Thursday night won't be able to participate, Strickland said.

    "I'd like to see both parties say, 'We're going to bring this to an end,' " Strickland said, adding that he has no problem with the New Hampshire primary Jan. 8, because "at least it's an election."

Possibly worse, he dissed the state of Iowa as a whole:
    "Iowa is not an attractive place to be in the wintertime," Strickland said, adding that Iowa "is not a representative state and the caucus is not a fair way to register public opinion, in my judgment."
Ted's penchant for speaking his mind, damn the politics, is admirable whether one agrees with the statement or not. Sometimes what he does aggravates me (reinstituting the Nativity scenes, offering to sign whatever the NRA wants) sometimes I'm happy about it (vetoing special ed. vouchers, taking a chance on H.B. 117). But it's always felt like he is governed more by what he thinks is right that political expedience.

The Iowa flap is similar. Strickland believes in democracy, he doesn't think the caucuses are democratic. So he says so.

All well and good, but this isn't the way to endear himself to the most hyper-controlled, message disciplined campaign in the cycle. Hillary spinners quickly distanced the campaign from Strickland's statements:
    "Sen. Clinton believes that Iowa and New Hampshire play a unique and special role in the nominating process, and that process should be protected," spokesman Issac Baker said. "We're proud to have Gov. Strickland's support, but on this issue they disagree."
Time will tell whether the statements cause even minor damage to the Clinton campaign. But the campaign has to wonder if bringing Ted on board is worth1 the risks of his steroidal independent streak.


Jerid noted the incident. Bill Sloat updated a post speculating that the Iowa swing was a form of Veep try-out. Law and More runs a narrative that misses wide right -- that Strickland has no sense of timing. To the extent anyone picks up on it, this needs to be squashed like a bug. Reaction from Newsday's blog and from 2008Central. And keep an eye here for Iowa blog reaction.

1And by the way, Strickland isn't much of an asset as a Veep candidate in any event. Yes, he's popular, but he's popular because people hope he will turn the state around. He doesn't have a record of accomplishment. Worse, we Ohioans are as likely to be hacked off at the campaign for taking Ted away in the middle of the job as happy to see him as Veep.


John Ettorre said...

Mickey Kaus of Kausfiles (a TNR alum)called it a classic example of the "Kinsley gaffe," so named for a pol who inadvertently tells a difficult truth.