Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson surprised no one by withdrawing from the presidential race today. His third place finish in South Carolina last Saturday sealed his fate.

Now comes word via Fox News’ Carl Cameron that Thompson’s plan all along was to put himself in a position to be the Republican nominee’s choice for vice-president. (Hat tip: My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy)

Thompson would make a terrific vice-president and would immediately shore up the Republican ticket and appeal to the base. The most logical person to pick him would be John McCain who needs the most help getting the conservative base behind his candidacy.

As Joe Carter pointed out in his post-SC primary analysis, Mike Huckabee would also make a great VP nominee also. Hopefully he’ll also be smart enough to decline and make another run for the presidency in 2012.

Even Mitt Romney, who has yet to win a primary in a prominent, solidly Republican state, could benefit from having Thompson as his running mate to bolster his appeal among conservatives.

On the Democratic side, the VP sweepstakes will also be important but for much different reasons. Given the bitter divide between Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns it would make sense for the winner to offer the VP slot to the runner-up in order to heal divisions within the party. If they don’t, the could end up resembling Republicans of 1976 and losing the White House again.

In most years, the VP nomination is almost an afterthought. This year, the person occupying the number two slot may be as important as who is number one.

Filed under: PoliticsTom

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