Kerry just needs to find the right guy

John Kerry is in a protracted period of courtship – scouring the country for a person whose special somethings augment his own. But finding a political soul mate is a lengthy process, even if the union needs to last only four years. And when it comes down to whittling virtues from vices in that search for a second name on the Democratic ticket, we turned to a group long schooled in such affairs: matchmakers.

Find someone who enjoys the lighter side, said Barbie Adler, president of Selective Search, a Chicago matchmaking company. “Since John Kerry is very, very serious, his running mate should be a bit more human,” she said. “Someone fun, funny, lighthearted.”

He also should aim for a political partner with a down-to-earth demeanor, she said.

A presidential duo should also be able to exchange strong viewpoints, said Lisa Clampitt, co-founder of the Matchmaking Institute in New York. Kerry, she said, should focus on finding someone with deep-seated beliefs who doesn’t hide them.

Energy from “rock star” partners could stir up voters but outshine the main attraction. For example:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York: “I don’t know if it would necessarily get him elected. But it would be an interesting partnership. … She’s been diplomatically dealing with strong men for a while,” Clampitt said.

“She’s demonstrated how loyal she is in sticking by her man,” Adler said. “Being a vice president, you have to show loyalty no matter what the president does. She’d always stand behind her running mate.”

Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina: Edwards’ “charismatic” attitude and “people-person” outlook could temper any criticism of Kerry’s stiffness, Adler said. Being able to identify with “the common person” is good for the ticket, she said.

“There’s some kind of comfort level with him from all the campaigning,” said Lisa Ronis, who runs a matchmaking service in Manhattan. “It’s not someone from left field.”

Find someone who’s compatible with a cross-section of Americans, such as:

Gov. Bill Richardson, New Mexico: “Gov. Richardson is a little bit down to earth,” Adler said. “He’s someone to watch football with – more of a meat-and-potatoes type of guy.”

Long shots:

Jesse Ventura: “No one is going to mess with him,” said Bonnie Wills, a Phoenix-based matchmaker, adding that the former Minnesota governor and Reform Party member “doesn’t try to be politically correct, from what I’ve seen. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

John McCain: No dice on this duo, our matchmakers said. Crossing the aisle is too much for the Arizona Republican and Massachusetts Democrat to handle. “That would just be weird,” said Ronis.

George Clooney: Although she laments the recent influx of silver-screen stars onto the political stage, Ronis did suggest an upside to such candidacies. “It would make me more interested in politics,” she said.

Oprah Winfrey: “Oprah is the most politically influential woman in America. Why not make it official?” Wills said.

The daytime TV diva also got the nod from Nina Atwood, a Dallas-based relationship coach and author of “Soul Talk.”

“She’s extremely approachable, really loves people, wants to make a difference and cares about ordinary people, But at the same time, she’s a very powerful woman,” she said.

President Bush has vowed to remain loyal to Dick Cheney, but polls show voters have mixed feelings about the vice president.

Some Republicans have suggested dumping Cheney, an idea rejected by at least one matchmaker.

“He’s more gray-haired, seasoned, grounded, old-school and polished. He’s still a really good sounding board and is probably responsible for more of the good things in office than we probably know,” Adler said.

But … what’s love got to do with it?

“The truth of the matter is I don’t think (Kerry) needs to be compatible with a running mate,” said Terry Jensen, who runs Connections Matchmakers Plus, which has offices in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.

“I’m sure plenty of vice presidents and presidents didn’t get along.”