Op-Ed: If Donald Trump And Joe Biden Would Ask My Advice Regarding Choosing Their 2020 Running Mates (With a Look Into The future And A PR Lesson)

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Arthur Solomon

In its June 28 edition, the New York Times published a full page analysis of individuals under consideration for Joe Biden’s veep, which he said he will announce in August. I’ve had my own opinion who would be Biden’s best running mate for some time, and all of my choices are on the Times’ list.  

So in this column, I’ll give my reasoning for the top four candidates in the order of my preference. I’ll also give my opinion on who President Trump should choose to run with him.

Biden

  • 1 – Elizabeth Warren: Trump edged out an Electoral College win over Hillary Clinton largely because ultra-liberal Sanders supporters and African-American voters stayed home. Biden already has strong support among voters of color, but he needs to shore up support among voters who think he is too moderate. Warren is the best possible candidate to bring those voters to the polling booths because of her policy positions. Another plus is that she is a traditional liberal Democrat, who will not scare the great majority of moderate and conservative Democratic voters or Never Trump Republicans. She is not the wild-eyed crazy socialist that Trump and his supporters will claim if she is chosen.
  • 2 – Susan Rice: Ms. Rice has many things in her favor. Because of her extensive foreign policy background – she was the national security advisor and ambassador to the United Nations for President Obama s – she would be ready on day one to assume the presidency. Because she is an African-American she would also appeal to those who say Biden must choose a black running mate or we’ll stay home. Her only negative is that she is not that well-known. Normally that would be corrected during the campaign season, but it will be more difficult to do so during a Pandemic with limited campaigning.
  • 3 – Kamala Harris: Sen. Harris, like Sen. Warren is already well known to the public. She has staked out positions that appeal to both liberal and moderate voters. Her policies might be more in line with Biden’s than Warren’s, but whether she can bring out the Sanders supporters on Election Day is questionable.
  • 4 – Gretchen Whitmer: The Michigan governor can fix the problem that has plagued the Democratic Party for a number of years –promoting new and younger politicians. But I think she needs more national exposure in order to be seriously considered as a presidential or vice-presidential candidate. 

    Future Democratic Problem Which Must Be Fixed: In order to remain a party that appeals to all Americans, instead of only the extreme left-wing or people of color elements, the Democrats must choose the best available candidates and resist giving into pressure groups that represent a small portion of American society. The die is cast for the 2020 election, which, as happened in 2018, has seen experienced high-ranking liberal Democrats defeated in primaries by little-known candidates because of the color of their skin. 

    Trump

    If I was advising the president, I’d offer two suggestions:

    • 1Dump Mike Pence. Here’s why: Because of his dishonest critiques of the coronavirus situation, Pence has lost much of his credibility. Even some GOP governors have disregarded his analyses and advice as the virus has mushroomed among GOP-controlled Southern and Western states. Also, Trump already has the Always Trump voters locked up. He doesn’t need another unswerving party-line conservative. What Trump needs is a vice-presidential candidate who can help expand his voter base, which brings us to,
    • 2Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland. Hogan has gained national recognition because of his handling of the coronavirus situation. He is conservatives enough to keep      the “ultras” from staying home on Election Day and appeals to moderates because of his willingness to work across the aisle, unlike any other well-known Republican that I can think of.

    Future Republican Problem Which Must Be Fixed: In order to remain a relevant national party, the GOP has to face facts: Times are changing and the Bush and Trump presidencies were decided by winning in the Electoral College and losing the popular vote. True, a win is a win. But clearly the once solid GOP South, that has been the backbone of the Republican Party, is changing as older voters die and younger voters are becoming more moderate. Already, the once reliable GOP vote of Virginia has disappeared. North Carolina has become a swing state. And Democrats are gaining in states like Texas and Florida, which some analysts say has a good opportunity of voting Democratic, if not this year, by 2024, with the possibility of Georgia become blue before the end of the decade. Also, while younger voters are more likely not to register as a Republican or Democrat, they are more likely to vote Democratic. The Democratic Party is keeping up with the changing times, sometime, in my opinion, going too far to satisfy the “progressive” elements of its party. Conversely, Trump and the Republican Party seems to be rowing without moving as the tide that has kept their ship afloat recedes.

    Saying that I think that Trump has a good chance of winning a second term. That’s because there is a large “silent majority” with anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-African-American and anti-Hispanic elements that will vote this year. But if trends continue, this will be their last presidential hurrah. 

    And as usual a PR lesson: Many of the tenets of public relations that you learned in communications schools have been outdated  and should have been scrapped years ago. Watch TV news shows; read newspapers and magazines and you’ll see what works with journalists. And especially pay attention to the political news shows. You’ll get a tuition-free Master Course in practical PR.


    Note: Arthur Solomon has worked on political campaigns ranging from local races to the presidential level. He has also been a media adviser to high-ranking government officials.)


    The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr@juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum,net.

     

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