What Might Have Been: Vice President Harris Wofford

This week on The Daily Beast, political guru Paul Begala, who worked on Harris Wofford’s (Country Director/Ethiopia 1962–64) senatorial campaign in Pennsylvania, and then worked on Clinton’s Presidential campaign, and now teaches at Georgetown and writes political pieces for Newsweek Magazine and  The Daily Beast had an opinion piece on who Romney might pick for his Vice President.

Begala writes: “When Bill Clinton was choosing his running mate in 1992, I made a pitch for Senator Harris Wofford a visionary  who had worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. Wofford seemed perfect because he would have balanced the ticket, and that’s what conventional wisdom considers most important: Clinton was young, Wofford was older; Clinton was a Southerner, Wofford was from Pennsylvania; Clinton was a governor, Wofford


Harris with Sarge - meeting with Volunteers - Addis Ababa

served in Congress; Clinton was a Protestant, Wofford was a Catholic; Clinton was a moderate, Wofford was a liberal. But Clinton was blown away by his meeting with Al Gore and settled on him quickly, even though Gore was the same age, same region, same religion, and same ideology. “Why pick him?” I asked. “Because, Paulie,” Clinton said in a near whisper, “I might die.” Gulp.

What Begala might have added, to fill our Wofford’s CV, was that Harris was also key in 1961 to the framing of the Peace Corps, and later in the Clinton Administration how Clinton asked him to take over direction of the Corporation of National Service, which Harris then saved from being gutted by Republicans in Congress.

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