A VP Smokescreen, Possibly?

The hour draws near, and the media is about to be embarrassed once more by the likely surprises in vice presidential picks. As loyal readers know, I am often wrong, and sanguine about it. But I am tired of predictions, so instead of telling you whom Obama will pick, I am instead laying down my wild card for whom he should pick.

If Obama were as smart as we all thought he was, then these names we have been teased with — Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.) — were distractions he threw to reporters as he quietly worked to persuade Al Gore. I still vote for Biden as secretary of State. And yes, I know Gore has said no to the No. 1 and No. 2 slots, and he means it. More on that later.

Gore would help fill numerous holes for Obama — on foreign policy, relations with Congress, executive-branch experience and more. Most importantly, he has won the presidency himself, in addition to serving eight years as vice president. He himself admits to being not-so-great at politics, but as Obama's No. 2 Gore could show the new president some governing ropes while running the show on addressing climate change, his new mission.

Gore would become the most influential vice president ever, eclipsing Dick Cheney on day one. Gore knows how to deal with Congress (and is unlikely to marginalize members as Cheney did in seeking to centralize executive branch power). He served under Clinton as he bombed Iraq. Key for Obama is the fact that Gore opposed the invasion of Iraq, as Obama did, in 2002. I also imagine that, having learned from his mistakes in 2000, Gore would frighten any vice presidential nominee of McCain's in a debate.

Furthermore, Gore as No. 2 would be the knock-out punch to mitigate the Clinton problem — both Hillary and Bill. Obama has already elevated Gore to a Thursday night speaking slot at Invesco Field, giving him more prominence than former President Clinton, who talks the preceding night. There have been reports that the Obama campaign has been talking to Gore about an administration role — just what is that role, and why is he speaking at Invesco Field on Obama's big night ?

If Obama could talk Gore into this blockbuster, millions of Democrats — some of whom petitioned two years ago for Gore the savior to run for president — would not only be reassured about this junior senator from Illinois, but would jump at what they would see as a chance to right a wrong from the historic 2000 election. This group would include Hillary supporters. Should Gore, the martyr, become Obama's vice president, it would be to Democrats, to borrow a word from Hillary, the true catharsis.


MCCAIN IS NOW AHEAD IN A NEW POLL — CAN OBAMA TAKE IT BACK? Send your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com and please join my weekly video Q & A when it returns on Friday, Aug. 29. Thank you.