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A New Dream Ticket?

And his name was not Barack Obama.

Instead it was Sen. Evan Bayh, the-once governor of this state whose name has floated like a helium balloon as a potential running mate for Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee. Five years older than Obama, Bayh shares with the junior senator from Illinois a boyish demeanor and an ability to tap into a kind of energy I had previously thought was only present — at least on the Democratic side — in Obama and his former primary rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards.

But here was Bayh, introducing Obama, whose own words and tenor nearly matched the grace and precision of the speech on energy that would follow. In many ways, Obama choosing Bayh as his running-mate would mirror William Jefferson Clinton’s choice of Al Gore in 1992. Clinton and Gore were close in age, both born from the Boomer generation. While Clinton emerged from Arkansas to the national stage, Gore, as Bayh, was reared in Washington politics as the son of an influential, long-term senator. He was someone who knew and could lead Clinton through the intricacies of Potomac power. Combined, Gore and Clinton represented a generational shift from the one offered by the incumbent George H.W. Bush, despite Bush’s young side-kick, Dan Quayle.

And choosing Bayh might help the Democratic ticket — though it has been a while since a vice president was truly responsible for bringing his homestate into the party fold. Yet Bayh just might tip Indiana — regularly taken by the GOP in recent elections — over to the blue side of the map. And Bayh might even help in some of the surrounding red states — increasingly viewed as battleground states.

There are, of course reasons, for not choosing Bayh. People have often said he’s lacked charisma, and his good looks plays into the style-but-no substance attacks the Sen. John McCain has launched lately.

However sitting here, after weeks on the road and doing my own personal vetting of potential running-mates by seeing them up close — including Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in town-halls yesterday–Bayh seemed an ideal choice. He and Obama seemed like a pair that could work in tandem, moving in tandem, as Eudora Welty once wrote, as a "matched team–like professional, Spanish dancers wearing masks."

Very soon Obama will announce his pick. At this moment, the supposed Obama-Clinton dream ticket seems very far away.

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