During a segment on Wednesday's "Good Morning America" about the selection of vice presidents and what goes into the choice, reporter Claire Shipman gushingly introduced a clip of Al Gore's wisdom on the subject. She fawned, "But the man who is often named as the best choice in modern history, and who orchestrated a great choice himself, has some key advice."
Shipman didn't say who, exactly, considers Gore the best selection in history. She also failed to point out that Joe Lieberman, the Democrat tapped by Gore in 2000, wasn't elected vice president. So, how would one qualify that as a "great choice?" Earlier in the piece, the GMA correspondent lauded the "emotional history of picking the first Jewish running mate [Lieberman]," the "bold move of two young southerners [Bill Clinton and Gore] and blandly noted George W. Bush's selection of Dick Cheney as a "surprise."
Shipman did offer one passing reference to bad choices by Democrats. Regarding the party's 1972 and 1984 nominees, she asserted, "You do not want, say, a repeat of Thomas Eagleton's candidacy, who was dogged by stories he'd had shock therapy or the messy finances of Geraldine Ferraro's husband, which was decidedly off message."
However, much of the piece included gratuitous shots at George H.W. Bush's 1988 announcement that Dan Quayle would be his running mate. After playing the now worn out debate clip of Democratic candidate Lloyd Bentsen telling Quayle he was "no Jack Kennedy," Shipman slammed the politician for "embarrassing gaffes."
The ABC reporter then lectured, "And even if they look good on paper and in pictures, they have to be ready and well prepared. Dan Quayle was not." She condescendingly added, "Advisers assumed as a senator he'd be used to a few cameras and questions."
Of course, one of the reasons Quayle seemed less than serious was because the media aggressively played up any gaffe and then caricatured him. Quayle may have misspelled potato, but he didn't express the hope that he could visit all 57 states, as Barack Obama has done. Journalists have ignored that and other verbal goofs by the Democratic presidential candidate.
Finally, for all the Quayle bashing, he was elected Vice President. Lloyd Bentsen was not. Joe Lieberman was not. Perhaps Shipman should have factored these points into her reporting.
A transcript of the July 30 segment, which aired at 7:16am, follows:
CHRIS CUOMO: Let's get right to the race to '08. The buzz on the so-called veepstakes has reached a fever pitch, with all eyes on the men and women thought to be on John McCain's and Barack Obama's short lists. But picking a VP is just the beginning of what can be a very tricky obstacle course. ABC's senior national correspondent Claire Shipman has more on all this from Washington. Good morning, Claire.
CLAIRE SHIPMAN: Good morning, Chris. Any day now, that's the speculation about these announcements. Will it be Mitt Romney for John McCain? Joe Biden or Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia for Barack Obama? Well, as the candidates put the finishing touches on this matchmaking game, they're looking very closely at history. Veepstakes rumors reached code red Tuesday. Frenzied speculation that Barack Obama, especially, might be ready for a pick. He huddled for hours with advisers Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder as the spotlight turned to Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as somebody at the top of the list.
VIRGINIA GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: I haven't sought it. I'm not running for it. I'm not asking for it.
SHIPMAN: A sure sign he's in the running. It's a familiar quadrennial passage as the doldrums of summer set in. A public and press corp eager her for the hallmark moment of the campaign. What's the chemistry like? Does he or she read presidential? Is it a relationship that seems destined for a happy ending?
DAN QUAYLE: I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did.
SHIPMAN: Or, rather, doomed to embarrassing gaffes.
LLOYD BENTSEN: Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.
SHIPMAN: It's a critical milestone and the public watches closely.
TAD DEVINE (Democratic strategist & fmr consultant Gore 2000 campaign): This is the first presidential decision that a nominee for president makes. They use that as a proxy for judging whether or not the candidate for president is capable of making a presidential level decision.
SHIPMAN: One rule, learned the hard way over the hard years, vet, vet, vet. You do not want, say, a repeat of Thomas Eagleton's candidacy, who was dogged by stories he'd had shock therapy or the messy finances of Geraldine Ferraro's husband, which was decidedly off message. And even if they look good on paper and in pictures, they have to be ready and well prepared. Dan Quayle was not. Advisers assumed as a senator he'd be used to a few cameras and questions.
DEVINE: And what about 150 cameras? And what about lights so bright you can barely see when you're standing there. That's a different world.
SHIPMAN: Now, there's the search for that intangible, that je ne sais quoi. Whether the surprise of picking the man running the vetting process [video of Bush and Cheney], the bold move of two young southerners [Video of Clinton and Gore] or the emotional history of picking the first Jewish running mate [video of Gore and Lieberman].
DEVINE: Making a pick that fits, fits the election, fits of message structure of a campaign and fits the times is probably the secret ingredient.
SHIPMAN: But the man who is often named as the best choice in modern history, and who orchestrated a great choice himself, has some key advice.
AL GORE: Focus first and foremost on picking someone who would be able to be president and all the other factors pale in comparison to that.
SHIPMAN: And there may be a new rule, just this morning. You might not want to pick a vice presidential candidate who would later seem to have the right stuff to go on "Dancing With the Stars." That's right. Word is that Dan Quayle is being heavily courted for that show and may be considering, Diane and Chris, putting on his dancing shoes.
SAWYER: Dan Quayle doing the paso doble. I'm computing that right now. Okay, thanks so much, Claire.