Running for Vice President

In the long annals of American electoral politics, there’s nothing all that unusual about a pol running for president hoping in the end to be selected for the number two spot (it worked out that way for John Edwards in 2004 and Joe Biden in 2008). But it’s rare to see someone overtly run for vice president, which is likely how Carly Fiorina’s otherwise inscrutable but apparently imminent “presidential” campaign will be interpreted.

I mean, really, whatever virtues she has, Fiorina is a former CEO with an iffy business record who in her only bid for public office lost by a landslide (not as bad a landslide as some thought likely, but a ten-point loss is a ten-point loss) in one of the most Republican years ever.

But Fiorina has an asset she thinks Republicans are going to want and need in 2016: Without her, the GOP field in 2016 is likely to be all-male, which given the high likelihood that the Democratic nominee will be Hillary Clinton (or barring that, Elizabeth Warren!), guarantees her a lot of attention and puts her right on the short list of women deemed suitable to be a running-mate for The Man.

It makes sense, on paper. According to Tim Alberta of National Journal, Carly’s got some big right-wing speaking opportunities in February. She managed to manuever herself into the chairmanship of the American Conservative Union’s Foundation. So she’ll be large and at least partially in charge at CPAC. And she’s set for a keynote address at the hazy, elite-wingnut Council for National Policy. We’ll see if influential folk come out of these events chanting “Carly for Veep! Carly for Veep!” Or if all she’s bought is a speaking role at the Convention and maybe a nice mid-level ambassadorship.

UPDATE: Talking about semi-overt campaigns for the vice-presidential nomination always reminds me of the one overt campaign for the vice-presidency, by former Massachusetts Gov. Endicott “Chub” Peabody in 1972, a Democrat whose slogan was “the number one man for the number two job.” As it turns out, George McGovern might have done well to tap ol’ Chub, given what happened to his own Veep selection process.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.