Points By Drew Pritt

How John McCain is like Adlai Stevenson lately.
July 29, 2008, 4:47 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


John McCain’s campaign has been playing about a Vice Presidential choice was ready to be announced. This happened mainly during the recent Barack Obama overseas tour. The attempt was to take the news media away from Obama. However, the result is McCain is beginning to look indecisive. But this isn’t the first time a Presidential candidate has tried to use the Vice Presidential selection to drive the media this way and ended up having it backfire.

After former Governor Adlai Stevenson (D-Il.) was formally nominated for President by the Democrats once again in 1956, he stunned the convention by announcing that he was leaving the choice of his running mate to the delegates themselves. Not everyone at the time thought that Stevenson’s idea of turning the Vice Presidential selection over to the delegates was a good one. Off stage, House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas, the convention chairman, argued with the nominee not to do it. “It’s the damnedest fool idea I ever heard of,” Newsweek reported him telling Stevenson. But that didn’t deter the candidate, who went before the delegates around midnight following his first-ballot nomination and told them: “I have concluded to depart from the precedents of the past… so that the candidate for Vice President, may join me before the nation not as one man’s selection but as one chosen by our party even as I have been chosen.” Why Stevenson took this unconventional course of action isn’t fully known. He was trailing President Dwight Eisenhower (R-Pa.) significantly in the polls. And interest in the Vice Presidency, then occupied by Richard Nixon (R-Ca.), had increased considerably in the summer of 1956 by concerns about Eisenhower’s health, which had been heightened by a serious heart attack Eisenhower had suffered in June. Stevenson also was not helped by the fact that he kept switching his mind whether or not to run for President in 1952, 1956, and 1960.

In the end, the result is U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver (D-Tn.) narrowly beat out fellow Senator, John F. Kennedy (D-Ma.) after multiple ballots. The Stevenson-Kefauver ticket was buried and Kennedy became a new star.


One positive thing from the experience is that for the Democrats, many new and fresh faces came up, during the fight for the nomination. Three, Kennedy, along with Senators Eugene McCarthy (Mn.), Scoop Jackson (Wa.), and Governor Pat Brown (Ca.) suddenly got the national exposure to become the next generation’s leadership for their party.

McCain has been highlighting some new faces including Governors Bobby Jindal (La.) and Sarah Palin (Ak.), along with businesswoman Carly Fiorina (Ca.) and former U.S. Congressman Rob Portman (Oh.) and they look to be the new Republican party leadership.

As for McCain, the more his campaign “leaks” then the more indecisive that McCain is looking. Like Stevenson before him, I think this strategy is not working. Leaving it up to the RNC might be exciting and might boost ratings for awhile but it will hurt him in the long run.

In the end, McCain should tap an exciting choice like Palin and just move on.


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