OK. This will never happen, but it’s fun to think about. And considering all the twists and turns in the presidential campaign so far, this one isn’t so far fetched. After all, it only results in Governor Sarah Palin becoming a United States Senator and Senator John McCain winning the presidency. What could be so hard?
Here’s the key elements of this October Surprise:
- With the conviction of Senator Ted Stevens today on all seven of the corruption counts he faced, Alaskan Republicans are faced with the prospects of backing a felon on election day. Polls already show the Democrat, Anchorage Mayor Mark Gegich, to be ahead. In political circles, being convicted of seven felonies is “unhelpful.”
- Governor Palin is dragging down the Republican presidential ticket. Although she’s rallied the base she’s failed to help Senator McCain with the independent and swing voters he needs. By selecting Governor Palin, however, Senator McCain has demonstrated his willingness to compromise his principles in order to assuage the conservative wing of his party. In other words, he’s paid his dues.
Holding on to the Alaskan Senate seat is critical to Republicans. If Democrats attain a 60 seat majority they can stop filibusters and make the Republican minority in the upper house nearly irrelevant. At the same time, the McCain-Palin ticket is cruising for a bruising.
Drastic times require drastic measures.
Here’s what should happen: the Alaska Republican Party should demand Senator Stevens resign from his nomination for the Senate. It should ten request, in the strongest terms, that Governor Sarah Palin return to Alaska to run in his place. Senator McCain should then replace Governor Palin with former Pennsylvania Governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. While pro-life conservatives will go ballistic with the usually pro-choice Governor Ridge on the ticket, the move should put Pennsylvania in play and provide a boost in toss-up states like Indiana, Virginia, Missouri and Ohio. As Senator McCain reminds voters of his no-tax, straight talking, national security credentials, his surrogates would remind conservative Republicans that President McCain will appoint Supreme Court Justices to their liking.
The result: well, who knows? But do Republicans have anything to lose? The chances of holding onto the Alaskan Senate seat has fallen to zero. The odds of keeping the White House are long. But this last minute shuffle would create a brand new dynamic. The confusion and chaos would leave no room for Senator Barack Obama to make his closing argument for the presidency. Meanwhile, the sheer audacity of the move would demonstrate Senator McCain’s willingness to take new approaches to big problems.
And it sure would be fun.