ODDS THAT HE'LL BE PICKED: 5-TO-1
Among the most-admired and most-collegial members of the Senate, he's known as a thoughtful centrist who is strong on traditional values: He helped found the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, which pulled the party back from nutty liberalism and helped elect Clinton. Lieberman was the first national Democrat to call out Clinton while the president was still trying to brush off the Monica scandal, openly describing the president as "immoral," an overdone word perhaps, but the memory of this makes Lieberman seem independent-minded and could help distance a Gore ticket from Bill Clinton's negatives. Lieberman is doubly interesting because he is the Senate's first Orthodox Jew: genuinely observant--walks to synagogue on Sabbath--though a member of the "modern Orthodox" movement, which is strictly observant of religious rules but open-minded on political and cultural matters. (Lieberman has already clarified that he could perform White House work on Saturdays if vice president, because Orthodoxy allows a Sabbath exception for those whose jobs serve the general public interest.) Lieberman as a candidate for the White House would be a fascinating case study in voter dynamics, since many on the Christian right, who would be wary of a leftish "cultural Jew," might be enthusiastic about Lieberman--the Christian right gets along well with Orthodox Judaism, because both believe in religious and moral strictness. Weirdly, Lieberman might turn off some of the Democratic Party's established "cultural Jew" support base, which is wary of Orthodoxy and tends to turn up its nose at the strictly observant. His downside: Lieberman divorced his first wife, which may make his moralizing about Clinton's family values seem sanctimonious.
Click here for a Slate.com profile of Lieberman [http://slate.msn.com/code/Culturebox/Culturebox.asp?Show=03/29/2000&idMessage=4974]
Or visit his official Senate website. [http://www.senate.gov/~lieberman/]DIANNE FEINSTEIN, SENATOR (CA)
ODDS THAT SHE'LL BE PICKED: 8-TO-1
She is the senior senator from the nation's largest state and so would fill the classic veep role of bringing a big state to the ticket. Gore's electoral-college strategy all but mandates that he win California, a central reason Feinstein is under consideration (along with California Governor Gray Davis). Feinstein is beloved by the women's wing of the Democratic Party because she is among the most ardently pro-choice of politicians. Her downsides: Feinstein is a poor public speaker who tends to ramble and gets huffy if everyone doesn't sit in rapt silence. From San Francisco, the Sodom of America to conservatives, she would be easy to caricature as too liberal and too urban, thus triggering voters' stereotypes of Jewish politicians. (This is a problem that, say, a right-wing Republican Jewish candidate would not face.) And Feinstein is so pro-choice--she has the '60s-feminist penchant of speaking of abortion as if it were an uplifting, liberating experience, while scoffing at the moral questions --she could spark a hostile response from the large voter bloc that thinks abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare," in the centrist phrase. If Gore were to pick Feinstein, and Bush to pick Governor Frank Keating of Oklahoma, an adamant pro-life Catholic, the election could be turned into a national referendum on Roe. Feinstein worships in the Jewish faith, and her father was Jewish, but her mother was not. Thus to most American voters, as well as to secular Jews and liberal religious Jews (such as members of the Reform denomination), she would be Jewish. But many Conservative and Orthodox Jews would not consider Senator Feinstein "really" Jewish, since traditional holds that this identity flows only through the maternal line. (See Cohen.)
Click here to visit Diane Feinstein's official Senate website. [http://www.senate.gov/~feinstein/]ROBERT RUBIN, former Sec. of the Treasury
ODDS THAT HE'LL BE PICKED: 10-TO-1
The case for this investment banker and former treasury secretary is simplest of all the potential Jewish veeps: Rubin was instrumental to the record economic boom of the '90s, would remind voters of ongoing prosperity, and associate Gore's name with the ability to keep the boom humming. On this point, stereotypes about Jews and money might actually help a Gore ticket, because some voters would assume that since Rubin is Jewish, he would know what he's doing and make smart decisions for the economy. (This might be called the Fujimoro Factor: Peruvian voters initially elected Alberto Fujimoro because they assumed his Japanese ancestry meant he'd be super-efficient.) Rubin's downside is the flip side of his positive: A Jewish banker from Manhattan--how's that gonna play in Georgia?
Click here to read a bio of Robert Rubin when he was Secretary of the Treasury. [http://www.treas.gov/press/officers/rubin.html] RUSSELL FEINGOLD, SENATOR (WI)
ODDS THAT HE'LL BE PICKED: 50-TO-1
As the other half of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform team, he could bring to the ticket an important issue that voters really care about and neither Bush nor Gore has traction on. All those Buddhist temple jokes and the chance of a special prosecutor looking into Gore's fundraising might fade as concerns if Gore ran with a prominent advocate of soft-money reform. And Feingold really showed some mettle in the 1998 election, just barely winning after he refused PAC money, despite running against a wealthy opponent. Downsides: He doesn't bring a big swing state (Wisconsin has recently voted Democratic anyway), and he's yet another Rhodes Scholar (aren't you sick of them?). Feingold was the only Senate Democrat who voted against the motion to dismiss the impeachment charge against Clinton, which Gore may not care about but Clinton still smarts over, and Gore needs the president's enthusiastic support. Finally, Feingold's reputation is that of a self-impressed windbag. He is often hard to take, and Gore seems to want someone he can genuinely work with, as Clinton genuinely worked with him.
Click here to visit Russ Feingold's official Senate website. [http://www.senate.gov/~feingold/]WILLIAM COHEN, SECRETARY of DEFENSE
ODDS THAT HE'LL BE PICKED: 23-TO-1
Cohen would bring many strengths to a Gore ticket: regional balance (Maine and the South), strong-on-defense standing, multicultural everything (his wife is black). Most important would be the stunning, attention-grabbing nature of a joint Democrat-Republican ticket. Cohen is a Republican and already serves as the first crossover Cabinet member in the postwar era; if he became the first veep candidate in modern times to run with someone from the opposite party, it could make Gore and the Democrats seem admirably bipartisan. Though Cohen is a Unitarian, as a vice-presidential contender there would be pressure on him, as there was on Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, to announce what he "really" is. Most Jews won't view Cohen as really Jewish, since his mom was a Protestant; most voters will, if only owing to his last name. No matter what Cohen said or did, the question of what he really is would give the media something to fixate on, and quickly drive everyone crazy. His downsides: Maine is hardly a key electoral state. Republicans might work overtime to beat a ticket with Cohen on it, as revenge for one of theirs helping the other side. People might also obsess about which party Cohen "really" belongs to, and this question could hang over the ticket.
Click here to read a bio of Defense Secretary William Cohen. [http://www.defenselink.mil/osd/topleaders.html]