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From today’s Washington Post:

Kaine and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius are the only state leaders believed to be under serious consideration, sources close to Obama said.

As in Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. As in serious consideration to be Obama’s Number 2. A handful of “longtime senators with foreign policy experience,” including Joseph Biden and Evan Bayh are also on Obama’s short list, the Post reports.
That Biden, Bayh, Kaine, and Sebelius have made it to some sort of final round of veep vetting says a lot about how much Obama is trying to appeal to culturally conservative white voters, the ones who put Hillary Clinton over the top in the Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and elsewhere.
Biden, Kaine, and Sebelius are all Catholics who feel comfortable talking about their Catholicism. Polls show that Catholics, historically a Democratic constituency, are split between Obama and McCain, so picking a Catholic veep could help Obama pick up enough Catholics to avoid John Kerry’s fate: losing Catholics despite his own Catholocism. But might it also increase the chances of McCain picking Bobby Jindal, a devout Catholic?
Evan Bayh isn’t Catholic but has one election four times (twice as governor, twice as Senator) in culturally conservative Indiana. When he was campaigning for president himself in 2006 (remember that?) Bayh would open his stump speech by announcing he was going to discuss what was “on his heart,” a popular Methodist idiom.
So far as faith outreach and messaging goes, the most intriguing name on Obama’s list is Kaine’s. In his 2005 run for governor, Kaine defending himself against attacks on his opposition to capital punishment on the basis of his Catholicism, casting attacks on his position as attacks on his faith. He taped TV ads that said as much. It was an age-old GOP/Christian Right tactic. It worked.
Kaine also taped ads for Christian radio in ’05, back before it was the “it” thing for Democrats to do. The DNC used his race as a pilot program for its much-ballyhooed current religious outreach program.
Any way you cut it, though, religion is on top of Obama’s mind going into the general.


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