Democrats discuss potential VPs

Former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro said the 2004 election offers a good chance to break racial and gender barriers.

Josh Verges

With the Democratic presidential nomination in hand, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry has begun searching for the man who will join his ticket.

Geraldine Ferraro would like that man to be a woman.

The 1984 vice presidential candidate joined Walter Mondale at the McNamara alumni center Wednesday for a panel discussion on women in politics.

Ferraro called Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., a “very attractive candidate” for vice president. She said Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., would be a better presidential candidate.

Ferraro is the only woman from either major party to have appeared on a presidential ticket. Also the only Italian-American to run from either party, she said 2004 provides a good chance to break another racial barrier.

“We (could) bring (New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson) into Nevada as well as New Mexico and Arizona and really touch the Hispanic population,” she said.

Political commentators expect New Mexico to be one of the battleground states this year as it was in 2000 when 365 popular votes won the state’s five electoral votes for Al Gore.

Democratic Sens. Bob Graham and Bill Nelson, both from Florida, have also been mentioned because of that state’s swing status and 27 electoral votes.

Reflecting on his 1984 presidential campaign, Mondale called his opponent his only regret.

“It was almost impossible to land a blow on the man,” Mondale said of former President Ronald Reagan.

He said the Democrats needed a bold move to compete with the popular incumbent.

Public opinion expert Celinda Lake, one of the panelists, said Americans still believe a female leader would make the country seem vulnerable.

“Obviously in today’s world of terrorism and war that’s a big setback for a woman candidate,” Lake said.

She said that despite growing numbers of women in office, 52 percent of women and 39 percent of men said they would feel “comfortable” with a female president.

A recent CNN/USA Today poll of Democrats pegged Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., as the favorite for vice president.