Thursday, May 29, 2008

March Madness for Politics

If you, like us, had an even harder time with your NCAA basketball bracket this year than you did with your Palm Beach Butterfly Ballot, MSNBC is offering a way to redeem yourself: A new interactive feature on their website allows you to play pundit and predict John McCain's running mate from a field of 32 contenders.

Even more enticing than the Republican Veepstakes itself is the scintillating, Sports Center-esque commentary from political reporter David Gregory and political director Chuck Todd that accompanies the contest. Here are some highlights on how they're handicapping the first round:

Sarah Palin v. Rob Portman:
David Gregory - "I'm going to go for Portman here - a former leader in the House, southern Ohio, strong conservative, young, dynamic, future of the party. I think he's a very attractive candidate to be a number two."

Chuck Todd - "I tell you Sarah Palin - she's a mother, five children, just gave birth, sitting governor of Alaska. Conservatives love her. Don't be surprised if she's got some grassroots movement."
Meg Whitman v. Kay Bailey Hutchison
David Gregory - "Kay Bailey Hutchison has been around a long time. Too establishment I think. Meg Whitman, on the new economy, could sure up a real potential weakness for McCain in a year when this could be issue #1 that people vote on."

Lindsey Graham v. Bobby Jindal
Chuck Todd - "Bobby Jindal - When you can biologically be McCain's grandson, it might not be the right pick."

Mike Huckabee v. J.C. Watts Chuck Todd - "Mike Huckabee could do well in something like this. His voters still seem to be fairly energized about him."

David Gregory - "J.C. Watts - Does he pick an African American to try to balance out Obama? It's a little cynical to reach for someone who doesn't necessarily have the national following just because he's black."

While many of the pairings are thought-provoking, several of the seedings seem strange. How Jeb Bush secured a #2 seed in a year when the Bush name is poisonous in politics defies reason. Condoleeza Rice, who has repeatedly denied any interest in the number 2 slot, also somehow wound up with a #2 seed. Clearly the bracketologists behind the Republican Veepstakes weren't looking at Intrade, where Condi has been trading at around 4.5 for the Republican VP nomination.

Take a look at the screen shot of our picks and chime in with your own in the comments.

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