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The likelihood of a brokered or negotiated compromise between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama in which the two would run on the same ticket was until Tuesday’s Texas and Ohio primaries somewhere between slim and none. But the “morning after” her Texas and Ohio wins, Clinton went on the morning news shows and responded positively to interviewers’ suggestion of such a possibility.
So, let’s consider what a compromise Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama deal might look like. Forget for the moment the complicated math it would take for either Clinton or Obama to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination. Let’s forget the massive issue of egos and whether either senator would deign to give up a shot at the presidency and serve instead as vice president. Let’s also forget the understandable personal dislike that may exist between these two formidable personalities.
Imagine the two agree, instead, to join forces on the Democratic ticket. If there were to be a compromise between the two candidates, my thoughts are on the basis of age, Clinton should be given preference. But in exchange for that preference, she would also have to give up a substantial amount of power.
Since Clinton is 60 now and will be 61 in October, if she were to agree to serve as Obama’s vice president, she would most likely be 68 by the time she would be able to again run for president, assuming two successful White House terms for Obama. He, on the other hand, at 46 now, would be 47 when he became vice president with Clinton at the top of the ticket. Assuming the win of a second term for the team, Obama would be only 54 when he would start his next run for president.
A reasonable price for his agreement to serve as vice president would be Clinton’s pledge to run for just one term and give Obama (as vice president) responsibility for some major issue, as she was given control over universal healthcare during her husband’s presidency (and with better results, one would hope). Since Obama’s resume is most lacking in the arena of international affairs, additional powers as a roving international troubleshooter would add substantially to his credentials were he to run for president four years hence.
At this point a brokered deal is unlikely to happen. It’s also the Republicans’ gleeful hope that Obama and Clinton keep fighting all the way to the party convention and onto the convention floor. That makes Sen. John McCain’s path to the presidency all the easier.
Clinton won Texas and Ohio by “going negative” against Obama and he will most likely have to respond in kind if he wishes to stay competitive. Then there’s the fact that McCain can bank all his fundraising efforts now to fill the airwaves with commercials next fall, while Clinton and Obama are going to need to raise many, many millions of dollars just to keep fighting each other.
On the other hand, if the two Democrats don’t make amends, each stands to turn off important parts of the Democratic constituency through a protracted nomination battle. Clinton already has huge fences to mend with African-American Democratic voters. She has to figure out how to woo young Democrats and lure them to the voting booths in large numbers in November, just as they have turned out to vote in primaries in large percentages for Obama. He, on the other hand, has not been able to consistently win support from older white women and blue-collar workers.
There is the very real possibility at this point that if they don’t join as a team, neither one wins: the White House that is. Together they could be unstoppable.
(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and columnist. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)CompuServe.com.)