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I Think I Saw a Vice-Presidential Candidate

I watched a little bit of the Senate debate on the Medicare bill -- hard to take. What the hell is Ron Wyden, who used to run the Oregon Gray Panthers, doing voting for this bill? What is the actual logic behind the argument, "it's a flawed bill but let's enact it so we can improve it?" Is there an example of something like this that's been enacted and then significantly improved? Wouldn't it be just as easy to improve it and then pass it?

Leaving all that aside, I watched several very good speeches in opposition (though not John Kerry's -- he showed not the slightest interest in the text he was reading), but the one that jumped out at me was Senator Bill Nelson from Florida. He's not someone I've paid any attention to, but watching him, I realized he's a great choice for a Democratic vice-presidential candidate. Not only is he from Florida, but he's from the more Republican area near Orlando and ran well ahead of Gore in the Republican areas of Florida in his 2000 Senate race. He's an Army veteran, flew in the Space Shuttle Columbia (I hate the Space Shuttle, but it does represent the kind of vision and ambition that Democrats need), went to Afghanistan as a member of the Armed Services committee. He's only been in the Senate since 2000, but his political resume is as long as anyone in the presidential race, including Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman, going back to 1972, when he was elected to the state legislature, then several terms in Congress, a failed run for governor, and a few years as state insurance commissioner during the cleanup from Hurricane Andrew. He seems to be a solid, consumer-oriented moderate Democrat.

According to the Almanac of American Politics, he's "a straight-arrow who doesn't drink, smoke or swear," with a "folksy" manner. But he's been very solid in voting against the Bush tax cuts and now against the Medicare bill; he voted for the war resolution but that's not a deal-breaker for me. Could be a very interesting match for Dean in particular, but any of the other candidates as well. Imagine the Republican calculus if Democrats could take Florida off the table early!

Posted by Mark Schmitt on November 24, 2003 | Permalink


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Its funny that you mention him because I remember watching him with a friend of mine when the Columbia tragedy happened earlier this year and we were very impressed by how well he explained what had probably happened to the space shuttle. We both thought that he looked good on TV, that his interest and involvement in the space program was an asset and naturally that he came from Florida.We bought thought that the Democrats should nominate him fo VP.

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