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Jewish World Review Dec. 18, 2003 / 23 Kislev, 5764

Dick Morris

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Hillary's veepstakes | ESPECIALLY now that the capture of Saddam Hussein could turn the Iraq war into a positive for George Bush, Howard Dean may turn to Hillary Rodham Clinton to be his vice presidential candidate. And, especially now that Al Gore has un-retired, Hillary might just accept.

If Dean wins the Democratic nomination, his biggest problem will be watching his back. Even if he wins most of the delegates at the Boston convention, it is still Bill and Hillary's party.

The Clintons have done everything they can to stop Dean's momentum. At the race's start, they sent their A Team - pollster Mark Penn and media guru Mandy Grumwald - to work for Sen. Joe Lieberman in hopes of putting one of their faithful in the winners circle.

When Lieberman sputtered, they did their best to get Gen. Wesley Clark into the fray. President Clinton even said that Clark and Hillary were the two stars of the Democratic Party. Clinton movie-maker Harry Thomasson is doing an ad for Clark and Bill's buddy Bruce Lindsay signed up for the campaign.

When John Kerry began to fizzle, the Clintons sent in advisers to try to shore him up. The Clintons' policy has been A.B.D. - Anybody But Dean. They don't want Dean, or anyone else they can't control, getting control of the Democratic apparatus. The party machinery, now firmly run by Terry McAuliffe, directs funds to favored candidates and pays for much of the Clintons' political operation.

So if Dean is the candidate, how can he avoid the McGovern problem - getting knifed in the back by his own party leaders? Take a hostage, Hillary, and put her on the ticket.

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She would bring him a cachet he now lacks, give him support from the party's center and guarantee the full and enthusiastic support of the popular ex-president and his backers. And putting a woman on the ticket would, by itself, make a big difference.

Dean will remember how Reagan united his fractured party by putting his defeated primary opponent, George W. Bush on his ticket in 1980. While Dean's nominal opponents are named Gephardt, Kerry, Clark, and Lieberman, his real adversary all along has been Clinton. He might find the Reagan prescription the right one to follow.

Why might Hillary accept? She suddenly has a new potential rival for the 2008 nomination - Al Gore.

The former vice president's un-retirement, signaled by his endorsement of Howard Dean, makes him a potent possible rival for Hillary. With his bold support of the peace movement's darling, Dean, Gore may get an edge among the party's new masters - its left wing.

Hillary may also worry that Dean might choose someone like Gen. Clark as VP. Such a choice would immediately lift Clark into contention for the 2008 nomination, making it a tough three-way race where it had once appeared a cakewalk for the former first lady.

If Hillary ran with Dean, she'd eliminate Clark from contention and would overshadow Gore in her support for Dean, regaining ascendancy on the party's left. The national exposure would acclimate people to her running for national office and their defeat would be chalked up to Dean, not to her.

Hillary thrives in the spotlight and wilts outside it. What better stage would there be than the podium in Boston and the campaign to follow? She could tour America attacking Bush while showcasing her candidacy for four years hence.

So a Dean/Clinton ticket makes a lot of sense for both sides. It's too early to predict the events of the next eight months, but certainly the advisers of both campaigns will look closely at the possibility.

Dean/Clinton in '04? Stranger things have happened.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, Off with Their Heads: Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists in American Politics, Media & Business" Comment by clicking here.



© 2003, Dick Morris