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Campaign Insiders: The Time to Consider VPs Is Now

Friday, April 22, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Due to early national conventions and undecided presidential primary races, time is short, and every active presidential campaign should be starting to vet potential running mates now, according to a report released today by a Bipartisan Policy Center working group of former campaign managers, legal counsels, and senior advisors.

The working group, which includes Obama campaign counsel Bob Bauer, 2008 McCain campaign advisor Charlie Black, 2012 Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades, and 2008 Obama campaign advisor Anita Dunn, among others, has developed eight recommendations for the 2016 campaigns on how best to conduct a thorough and discreet vetting process. Their advice, informed by the experiences and processes of presidential campaigns over the last two decades, includes:

  • Campaigns should devote a minimum of eight weeks to the vice presidential vetting process.
  • Presidential candidates should have ample time to get to know each of the potential running mates on the short list, especially by making campaign appearances together.
  • Campaigns should enlist lawyers and other professionals with ample resources and the proper skills and experience to conduct a professional and thorough vetting process.

“The fact is there are no established guidelines or best practices when campaigns embark on the process of choosing a running mate,” said Bauer. “Who should lead a vetting process? What qualities should be considered? How should sensitive data be handled and disposed of? When should the running mate, and those not selected, be notified? These have all been challenges for past campaigns, and our report seeks to provide some guidance for the future.”

“Modern vice presidents have major policy portfolios and are close confidants of the president. More importantly, the vice president is one heartbeat away from the presidency,” said Black. “For these reasons, the selection process is more important than ever.”

BPC’s working group will discuss their recommendations at an event later this morning, available via live video stream.