Andrew Sullivan and Will Saletan have similar takes on what last night means for the Veep spot. First, Saletan:
Dean’s logical running mate was Clark: the New England domestic policy expert and national security rookie, paired with the Arkansas national security expert and domestic policy rookie. Kerry could go with Clark, too. But Kerry doesn’t have to, because he’s already got the national security credentials as well as the domestic policy expertise. If the hole in Dean’s doughnut, as he once called it, was military experience, the hole in Kerry’s doughnut is vitality and a common touch, plus regional appeal in the South or Midwest. I could see a Kerry-Clark ticket (or the reverse), but a Kerry-Edwards ticket (or the reverse) is now conceivable. A Dean-Edwards ticket wasn’t.
If I’m Clark in New Hampshire, my task just got more complicated. I’m not just fighting to stay above Kerry so I can have a shot at the presidency. I’m also fighting to stay above Edwards so I can have a shot at the vice presidency.
For me, the big winner is Edwards. He’s always struck me as a Tony Blair figure – telegenic, personally appealing, centrist. His speech was the best of the bunch last night – and he exudes decency. That’s enormously important against Bush because the president’s most under-rated political virtue is his general likeability. If Edwards can pick off even a couple of Southern states, he has a critical advantage over his rivals. National security is obviously a huge problem. Maybe he can find a way to innoculate himself on the issue. How does a Kerry-Edwards or Edwards-Kerry ticket sound? In a word: Credible.
My own take? Any of those tickets is more credible than anything with “Dean” in it. But it’s still too soon to determine who’s going to be at the top of the ticket, much less who’ll be at the bottom.