Kaine: Lieberman for President

It was just last week that the McCain VP hysteria was at a fever pitch, after a couple news outlets breathlessly speculated that his running mate selection was imminent.   This week, it was an uncharacteristic media blitz around Tim Kaine, after a page one story in the Washington Post that he'd told associates he was on Obama's "short-list" for VP. The Virginia Governor then made the rounds with TV and radio interviews. 

But before everyone gets ready to anoint Tim Kaine as Obama's VP, consider this startling fact, which has some of the liberal blogs up in arms:  Tim Kaine endorsed Joe Lieberman for president in 2004—over both John Edwards and John Kerry.

Here's what Kaine said then, according to a story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:   "Joe's record as a state official and senator shows he has the qualities necessary to lead our nation, strengthen our economy and promote a safer world," Kaine said. "Joe is the right person to revive the Harry Truman wing of the Democratic Party, which has traditionally been strong for national defense, strong for the economy and strong for equal opportunity."

The story goes on to say that Kaine had applauded Lieberman's nomination as Al Gore's vice president because "he clearly personified the party's commitment to faith, family and a values-based approach to public life." 

Of course, Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman is now one of McCain's closest advisers and most dedicated campaigners—and on McCain's own shortlist for VP.   It's entirely unclear whether or not Lieberman will be John McCain's VP—the prospect is on the table, but it's obviously an enormously risky move that could inflame the Republican base.   But even if he's not the pick, it's easy to see how much fun the McCain folks would have pointing out that VP nominee Kaine thought so highly of Lieberman he endorsed for him for President just four years before.   And if Lieberman and Kaine were the actual VP nominees? Imagine the potential for a Bensten-Quayle moment in the VP debate.   Lieberman could point out Kaine's position two years ago that it would "send a horrible message to cut and run from Iraq." And then he could have this kicker: "you even endorsed me in 2004!"   But before we get ahead of ourselves here, let's talk timing. It looks like the selections from either side aren't imminent--we've now reached Aug. 1 without an announcement from either camp, despite lots of earlier reporting that an announcement from one or the other was guaranteed by the end of July.   Sources close to McCain now are saying, well, pretty much what they've said all along—McCain's pick is likely to come after Obama makes his selection and probably just before the Republican National Convention in early September.   They insist McCain has not made up his mind—nor decided what path he will take with the nomination. As I reported yesterday, he is weighing whether to tap a conventional conservative like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman—or whether to go an entirely different route with a "transformative" pick like moderates Tom Ridge or Lieberman.   Some of them have advised McCain to fully vet one from each camp—then wait and see what Obama does before making the final call. But at the end of the day, the decision is going to be John McCain's—and while politics and numbers will play a role, of course, it's more likely going to turn on who he sees himself actually governing with.   On the Obama side, the New York Times' terrific Jeff Zeleny (and my former Chicago Trib colleague) is reporting that campaign aides say nothing is imminent before mid-August.

Which gives us plenty of time for more speculation.

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