Does Clinton Want To Be Veep?

For the second time this week, Hillary Clinton raised the possibility of running on a joint ticket with Barack Obama. First was on Wednesday’s morning shows . Then she did it again this morning at a campaign stop in Mississippi. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who has endorsed Clinton, floated the same scenario on a radio show today.

Clinton’s campagin is usually unflappably on message (with some exceptions ). This can’t be a mistake.

But what’s her goal? To deliberately plant the idea in people’s heads is at odds with the campaign’s never-say-die ethos. It’s the equivalent of saying ” if I win” rather than ” when I win.” Maybe she’s trying to counter suggestions that the long Democratic battle is going to split the party—you couldn’t ask for more unity than an Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama ticket.

Of course, there’s a big difference between those two tickets. Clinton could use Obama’s help, but Obama doesn’t need Clinton. He can fill arenas on his own, thank you very much. Clinton, on the other hand, would be looking for a smart, young, dashing guy with red-state appeal. Who comes to mind?

Most people have dismissed the “dream team” scenario, arguing that VP is a lame duck position neither candidate would want. But the job has changed since Al Gore. Dick Cheney, whatever you think of his politics, has made the seat much more powerful—and therefore much more attractive to would-be occupants. How ironic would it be if Cheney’s well-documented efforts to enhance the power of the executive branch ended up making the Democratic dream ticket possible?