It is time for the Veepstakes to begin. Mitt Romney is now the Republican nominee-in-waiting, he has named his search guy, and weekend talk shows and talk radio are beginning the banter. So I thought I’d take a moment and throw in my two cents (that’s all I've got left since Tax Day) to predict who Romney will pick as his running mate.
Of course, as all before him have said, Romney will say that he wants someone who could be president immediately and who agrees with him, but will have an independent voice. This axiom has been repeated repeatedly for many years by many presumptive presidents, so let’s just carry on as if that is a given.
Romney has the traditional options. He can pick someone who checks the box of a demographic group or someone from a region. He can choose a sitting or former governor, a military or business leader, or a current or former legislator. He can choose an opponent to unify the ticket. All of these (and various iterations of them) have been done in the past. Some have worked – some have not.
There are four states that President Obama won in 2008 that are currently legitimate toss-ups in 2012: Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20), Virginia (13), and Florida (29). If either candidate wins three of these four, they will most likely be the winner of the presidency. So here are my Top Five in descending order – and why I think they are where they are.
#5 – WILDCARD PICK – Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was at Romney’s first event in Florida after the South Carolina primary. She gave a rousing endorsement that day and was very affable as she worked the rope line. She has national exposure for conservatives – at least from cable TV talk. Most importantly, she is one of the state Attorneys General who is suing the Obama administration over ObamaCare.
#4 – Recent Romney rival and former US Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum certainly should be on a short list – if for no other reason than to mollify his backers around the country. He turned out to be the conservative standard-bearer in this year’s primary race and showed himself to be a relentless campaigner. However, he may not have the cred to help Romney secure Pennsylvania’s vote and he may not want back on the trail.
#3 – Marco Rubio is most people’s Number 1. He is a Hispanic from Florida and already a national figure – even though he has only been a US Senator for a couple of years. While he would definitely deliver Florida for Romney, he will probably do that anyway. His support of Romney has not been ringing and he has consistently said he is not interested in being the VEEP. He has had some suspicious financial issues when he was a state legislator and has had some suspect stories about his parents and their trek
from Cuba. One rule for picking the Vice-President is to do-no-harm. Rubio’s baggage might be a bit burdensome.
#2 – The good news on Rob Portman is that he is a conservative US Senator from Ohio. He is well-respected and well-liked inside the Beltway and out. He was the US Trade Representative and a congressman. He could be the point man on trade and legislative issues for a President Romney. The bad news is that he was President George W. Bush’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He might deliver Ohio. He would definitely attract criticism of Bush economic policies. While Romney does need Ohio, he does not need that.
#1 – Bob McDonnell is the Governor of Virginia. His number one problem is name recognition. I am a follower of politics and when I was making my list, I wrote his name down as Bob O’Connell. However, he is well-respected by his governor peers and has the political machine to win Virginia and maybe secure North Carolina as well. Of course – as with Rubio – he may be able to do that anyway. He is a Catholic who graduated from Notre Dame on an ROTC scholarship. He then served in the US Army for 21 years – partly in Germany. He holds an MBA, a Masters of Public Policy and a law degree. He
also worked for a Fortune 500 company. Prior to being governor, he was in the Virginia legislature. An article in The Virginia-Pilot noted of his time in the legislature, “His fingerprints are all over major pieces of legislation from welfare reform, to judicial performance evaluations, to juvenile justice and parole reform, to tort revisions. Few legislators can duplicate his track record of involvement and success.”
Add to this that Rubio and Bondi will deliver Florida. Romney will be able to cherry-pick Ohio.
Bob McDonnell is a southern conservative Catholic veteran from a swing state. Since Romney will need to go after moderates and independents, McDonnell can fire up the base. He has private sector business qualifications and executive and legislative political experience. He is an ally with GOPers from all around the country. He is be the perfect choice for Mitt Romney.