Casey Best Suited To VP
In case you missed it —which you easily could have, with the Thanksgiving holiday and such — Bob Casey says he might run for president. Yep. Former state auditor general, former state treasurer, current U.S. senator, firstborn son of the late Gov. Bob Casey. Maybe Casey got riled when President Trump labeled him “Sleepin’ Bob.” Maybe a campaign TV ad portraying Casey snoozing on the job got him woke. The week after his re-election to a third six-year term, having easily dispatched GOP opponent Lou Barletta, Casey was asked by NBC News if he plans to run for president in 2020. He didn’t say no. He said, “We’ll see what happens.” That didn’t exactly set off fireworks. So, Casey upped the ante. In Scranton, he told a TV station he has “an obligation” to consider running. Here’s the context: “Because of what’s at stake for our country, because of what’s ahead of us, anyone who can win a statewide election, I’ve won three Senate races in Pennsylvania, I think I have an obligation to consider it. We have to make sure the nominee of the Democratic Party wins Pennsylvania, because you cannot get elected president if you cannot win Pennsylvania. I’ve shown I can do that. I’ve won by an average of 13 points over three elections, so it’s something I’m considering.” OK, a little disjointed. And sometimes you cannot get elected president if you do win Pennsylvania. Just ask Al Gore or John Kerry. But I get what Casey’s saying. He’s running for vice president. The idea of Democrats nominating an anti-abortion presidential candidate seems more than a tad far-fetched. Plus, given a growing field of candidates, a Casey play for the top of the ticket is, as one of his longtime allies put it, “just like playing the lottery.” But. One could make a case. Abortion does not define Sen. Casey in ways it defined Gov. Casey. Sen. Casey, though an opponent of Roe v. Wade, doesn’t openly push for its overthrow, and has a 75 percent Planned Parenthood rating. St. Joseph’s University adjunct poli-sci prof Joe Powers suggests Casey is similar to fellow Scranton native Joe Biden. If Biden is not the nominee, Casey can appeal to the same middle- and working-class demographic Biden does. “If I was running a presidential campaign and Casey was the VP candidate,” says Powers, “I’d have him in Big 10 states — Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan — talking economic issues.” Others argue Casey is scandal-free, pragmatic, viewed as decent and likable. Perhaps the country’s ready for a milder brand of politics. A Democratic campaign adviser with no connection to Casey says “there’s no chance” the 2020 ticket is two white men. So, if a woman or person of color heads the ticket, Casey could end up vetted for VP. Ah, but Democrats, as always, have internal snags. And abortion rights remains as much a litmus test on the left as on the right. That’s a problem for Casey, says Rebecca Katz, a partner at New York-based Hilltop Public Solutions, a progressive campaign group. When I ask if Casey for VP helps Democrats, Katz says, “No. You know what’s not going to help Dems turn out in 2020? An anti-choice white male political legacy.” But, hey, they probably said similar stuff about the only Pennsylvania VP: George Dallas, a former Philly mayor, elected vice president just 174 years ago. JOHN BAER is a columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News.