July 9, 2011
By JOE HOLLEY
On a July morning in Los Angeles slightly more than a half-century ago, a young New England senator who had just won his party's presidential nomination reached out, reluctantly, to an older, more experienced senator from Texas, who agreed, reluctantly, to be his running mate.
In the postnomination chaos of the 1960 Democratic Convention, John F. Kennedy, a Massachusetts liberal (and a Catholic to boot), realized that Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson, his erstwhile rival for the nomination, had something that he needed: entree to a then-Democratic South that was inherently suspicious of liberals and Catholics. Thus was born the Austin-Boston connection.
For JFK, that connection was a lifeline to the White House. These days, it is the GOP that may give serious consideration to a reconstituted Austin-Boston connection: A New England politician with a suspiciously moderate past (and a Mormon to boot) may come to realize that he needs what a certain Southern governor with tea party and evangelical bona fides has to offer. As in 1960, when JFK-LBJ tied together the frayed and disparate wings of the Democratic Party long enough to win the White House, Mitt Romney-Rick Perry could be just the ticket for the GOP to unite its increasingly disparate wings and make Barack Obama a one-term president. . .
"Romney is clearly the front-runner, and depending on how (Perry) conducts his own campaign for the presidency, he's a viable vice-presidential pick," Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson said. . .
Jillson said that Perry's biggest challenge, assuming he does not win the nomination himself, will be to run a spirited campaign without burning bridges. George H.W. Bush could label Ronald Reagan's economic policies "voodoo economics" and still become his running mate in 1980, because that was a disagreement over policy, Jillson said, noting that Bush wasn't questioning Reagan's integrity.
"It's not quite clear whether Perry has that kind of governor on his mouth," Jillson said. "You don't want the fuel mix to be too rich when you get him talking up in Iowa for the first time."
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