Sunday, June 04, 2000

Blackwell on GOP ticket? Not likely

Cincinnatian's name mentioned for V.P. slot

        We have been marking time lately knowing that this would happen, that it had to happen, that it could not be escaped:

        J. Kenneth Blackwell's name has been floated for vice president of the United States.

        Cicadas are supposed to show up every 17 years, except for those squirrelly ones that pop out early. The Blackwell-for-Veep thing is a quadrennial event.

        This time it is a political economist at the conserva tive Heritage Foundation named Daniel J. Mitchell, who, last week, wrote a sober and thoughtful op-ed piece for the also-conservative Washington Times suggesting that if inevitable Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush wanted to shake things up he could turn to Ohio's secretary of State as the first Afri can-American on a major party presidential ticket.

        Now, let us all take a deep breath and get more oxygen in our heads. Let us get a grip on ourselves.

        The odds of Mr. Mitchell's intriguing political daydream coming to life are about as remote as the possibility of Jesse Ventura speaking a complete sentence that does not contain the words “I” or “me.”

J. Kenneth Blackwell
        But it is not the first time it has been suggested.

        Four years ago, in the period between Bob Dole clinching the GOP presidential nomination and the Republican convention in San Diego, Newt Gingrich and John Sununu were among those floating Mr. Blackwell's name as a potential running mate.

        At the convention, nearly every Ohio delegate went home with a campaign button touting what turned out to be a fictional Dole-Blackwell ticket; they are prized collectors items indeed.

        It didn't happen, of course, but it was fun while it lasted.

        Actually, on the face of it, Mr. Mitchell made a pretty good case for the former Cincinnati mayor who has more government titles on his resume than most people have shirts.

        As former national chairman of the Steve Forbes campaign, Mr. Blackwell would help unite the party, Mr. Mitchell wrote; and, since Colin Powell seems to be holding out for secretary of state, the presence of an African-American on the ticket would “discombobulate” the Democratic Party.

        The fact that Mr. Blackwell is a proven vote-getter in the key state of Ohio doesn't hurt, either.

        Now, Mr. Blackwell, being the very soul of modesty, has cast his eyes to the ground shyly and insisted he is not a candidate. In fact, he says, he would like to see Mr. Bush choose U.S. Rep. John Kasich of Columbus, who was a candidate for the presidential nomination himself for a while last year.

        Mr. Kasich, who is leaving Congress this year, is a possibility, although some close to the campaign say he may be too much of a live wire for the Bush campaign. What is needed, the insiders say, is an older and wiser, somber and sober running mate for a presidential candidate who is seen as something of a frat boy.

        If it's sober they want, they don't get more sober than ol' George Voinovich, Ohio's junior senator, who has been a governor and a mayor, too.

        Mr. Kasich and Mr. Voinovich probably rank higher on the list of potential running mates than Mr. Blackwell.

        But that won't stop the button vendors at the GOP convention this summer in Philadelphia.

        The Buckeye delegation will have a new souvenir to add to its collection.

        Howard Wilkinson covers politics. He can be reached at 768-8388 or email at


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