Republican strategists trying to game Sen. Barack Obama's choice for a running mate are focusing more and more on the possibility that he might pick former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, a friend of labor and blue-collar workers. "Gephardt is the one we're most afraid of," said a key GOP strategist and Bush ally.
Gephardt has run for the presidency and scored well among the types of voters Obama is trying to reach out to—lower and middle-class workers, laborers, and minorities. Another strategist said that Gephardt presents a friendly face of liberalism that would be hard to attack. He also has a deep well of support among House Democrats, who they believe would rally around an Obama-Gephardt ticket, especially the allies of Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Former Gephardt aides say that while they would like to see their former boss on the ticket, it is unlikely because of his recent lobbying work. In a new poll from the marketing firm Affinnova, Gephardt ranks high on the favorability rating, just second among those polled behind Colin Powell as the choice for Obama's running mate.