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Obama-Rendell?

That's the ticket.

1:08 PM, May 7, 2008 • By FRED BARNES
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The NOTION THAT BARACK Obama should pick Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate is crazy. She passes the first test of a veep selection: she's a plausible president. But she fails the second. She doesn't qualify as a partner on the Democratic ticket (and possibly in the White House) that Obama would be comfortable with--far from it.

But there is someone who does meet these two requirements, plus a third one and maybe a fourth. That person is Democratic Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania. Yes, Rendell was the leading supporter of Clinton when she trounced Obama in the Pennsylvania presidential primary last month. But he's a smart, tough, and respected politician who would no doubt embrace Obama eagerly, fully, and loyally.

Now that Obama has all but locked up the presidential nomination with his landslide victory in North Carolina and narrow loss in Indiana on Tuesday, pressure is building for Clinton to drop out of the race and, when the time comes, emerge as Obama's running mate on a Democratic dream ticket.

In truth, this would be a nightmare ticket, both dysfunctional and illogical. Opposites usually don't mesh in politics. Sure, LBJ helped JFK win the presidency in 1960. But Clinton isn't LBJ. Rendell comes closer to the LBJ model.

What would Rendell, 64, bring to the ticket? As governor of a major state, he's automatically a national political figure. He's also a former general chairman of the Democratic national committee, which means he's a party man who gets along with Democrats of all types. Though he backed Clinton, he's not identified with any Democratic faction or constituency group.

So it doesn't take a flight of fancy to imagine Vice President Rendell's functioning effectively with President Obama. It does in Clinton's case. Rather than defer easily to Obama, Vice President Clinton would be the ambitious leader of a rival camp. Harmony would not prevail in the White House.

There would also be the Bill problem. Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, would be her chief adviser, strategist, and co-conspirator. He'd probably move back to Washington and reside in the Admiralty House, the vice presidential mansion. It would become Clinton headquarters, a safe house for members of the Clinton diaspora.

Obama should recall what he and everyone else learned (once again) from this year's presidential race: when Hillary and Bill get together, it's all about them and getting their way. The interests of other elected officials or politicians are secondary, if that.

More often than not, vice presidential running mates have little effect on the outcome of the general election. But they can sometimes bring their own state. Rendell would, just as LBJ brought Texas in 1960. He would assure that Obama wins Pennsylvania against Republican John McCain in the general election.

This is critical. A Democratic presidential nominee cannot win without capturing Pennsylvania. It's no more complicated than that. Obama starts from a weak position in the state. In losing the primary, he fared poorly among Catholics, working class women, and downscale white voters. Rendell would corral them for Obama, most of them anyway.

Even if Clinton aided the ticket in Pennsylvania, she clearly wouldn't help as much as Rendell. And she would detract in many states. The fact that at least half the country dislikes her--and has for years--is hardly a talking point in favor of selecting her as running mate.

She has another drawback that Rendell doesn't. Clinton is the leader of a large faction in the Democratic party. She wouldn't be dependent on the president for power and influence and a political future. That alone would guarantee disagreements and struggles between her and President Obama. The media would feast on this.

One final thing. A vice presidential case can be made for another Democratic governor, Ted Strickland of Ohio. Like Rendell, he's popular, a Clinton backer, and governor of an important state. But Strickland has been in office for less than two years. He might bring Ohio, but he's not a plausible president. LBJ was. So is Rendell.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.