We present here a set of recommendations and best practices for the nominees of both parties:
The vice presidential selection process should be afforded adequate time and planning. At minimum, eight weeks should be allotted for the core vetting and selection portion of the process. Mistakes can be made or major problems exacerbated by an expedited and, therefore, inadequately deliberative process. We note that there may be instances in which the presidential nomination remains unsettled eight weeks prior to the convention. In those cases, the candidates still in the race should proceed with the selection and vetting process by this point. Regardless of when the next nominee is known, those in contention should begin the vetting at a minimum eight weeks prior to the convention.
The presidential nominee should know or get to know personally the potential vice presidential nominees before making the selection. Campaigns should also consider and account for this in their timetable. It is not enough to do a thorough vetting or to rely on the opinions of others. Presidential candidates who do not already know the small circle of final candidates for vice president will have to spend adequate time campaigning with them and getting to know them personally.
The vetting and final selection process is delicate. It will involve a small number of aides reviewing very sensitive information that is appropriately exposed to some but not others in the campaign hierarchy. Campaigns should plan to handle this material with care and only for as long as needed during the deliberative process. We make recommendations about the confidential structure of the process that will reflect these considerations.
The vetting process is entirely unofficial, and it is usually conducted with public record resources by teams of vetting lawyers. We make recommendations about the requirements for an effective vetting of a potential vice presidential nominee.
The notification of selection should be made to the vice presidential nominee in advance of the public announcement, but with notice of only a day or two. Careful coordination of the notification should be made with both the candidate selected and those not chosen.
The rollout of the vice presidential announcement is primarily a political event, but it should be more. It is an opportunity for a presidential candidate to explain the criteria used to make the decision and the basis for the choice that he or she has made. More generally, it provides insight into a presidential candidate’s decision-making process. At the same time, it is a chance for the vice presidential nominee to introduce himself or herself to the American public. We make recommendations about some elements of the rollout that may serve this larger purpose of educating voters, which is often undertaken in a very compressed timeframe before the convention and the formal beginning of the presidential general election campaign.
The Vice Presidential Selection Process Working Group was co-chaired by Robert F. Bauer, the general counsel of the 2008 and 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaigns, and Charles R. Black, a senior political advisor to the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign. View all working group members.