Using Potential Running Mate & Cabinet Picks to Attract Voters Isn't an Option

Rubio. Ryan. Daniels. Martinez. McConnell.
All have been bandied about as potential Vice President picks for the GOP candidates should they win the nomination. Does that matter and can it affect the primaries at all?


And not just because the same names are mentioned for all the primary candidates. Nor can any attempts at mind-reading regarding who the eventual nominee will pick as cabinet members or Supreme Court nominees. We never know who their choices will be, even during the general election campaign, much less the primaries. And that's the way it must be.

In fact, in some cases it may be illegal for a candidate to name his proposed cabinet members. Newt Gingrich, for instance, caused a bit of a kerfuffle when he mentioned that he would appoint John Bolton as his Secretary of State.


 The Wall Street Journal pointed out that while a case of illegality would be hard to prove (would have to prove that Gingrich was trying to buy Bolton's support rather than trying to attract voters with the idea of a Bolton Secretary of State), it's best for a candidate to avoid even the merest hint of impropriety by offering names of potential cabinet picks.

During the last election cycle, The Volokh Conspiracy laid out all the reasons why this is, and must remain the case. Often, people try to press general election candidates to start naming whom they would appoint as cabinet members. We eventually know their Vice President pick, obviously, and it usually doesn't even make much of a difference even in the general election. People vote for the number one guy or gal, not the second banana. The best one can hope for there is picking up some extra votes in a key state, if it's the Vice Presidential pick's state. An exception to this sort of rule was the Vice Presidential candidacy of Sarah Palin; some Conservatives not really fond of Senator McCain chose to support him once he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. I'm not a gambling dame, but I'd bet cash money that McCain would have lost by a larger margin without her.

But most candidates side-step the cabinet questions altogether. That's the way it's always been and the way it always will be. Status quo, baby! As voters, we can't let cabinet picks or potential Vice President picks affect our decision in the primary as these are unknown quantities. I mean, if you support someone in the primary then surely you are counting on that person to have the ability to make good future decisions anyway?

The only known quantity here is President Obama, Vice President Biden and that administration's cabinet members. And to that I say "No, thank you. Bless your hearts."

This post is part of a weekly conversation with our 5 Moms Matter 2012 political bloggers. Read the original question and find links to all their responses here: Do Candidates' VP & Cabinet Picks Affect Your Vote?

Image via WhiteHouse.Gov


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