March 29, 2012

Election 2012: Four Republican Vice-Presidential Possibilities

After the American Century

[We now know that Romeny has picked Paul Ryan to be his running mate, but this piece reminds us of the other alternatives he had, two of which could have helped him with women voters.]

Who will be Romney's running mate?  A common option, historically speaking, is to select one of the other candidates. This conceivably could happen, though I strongly doubt it because there were no women, no minorities, and no one even remotely young.Then there was all that negative advertising, souring relations. Therefore, I am going to assume that other candidates in the primary are out, and that shopping for a Republican VP is a matter of looking at governors and members of Congress. Here are some people that might get considered.

So many have mentioned Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie that I will just let their names stand, and anyone interested can find out more elsewhere. But I am guessing that Romney will look for someone a little unexpected, younger, and less typically Republican, i.e. a woman or a member of a minority group.

He could get both at once by picking Rikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina. She is young, only 39, and got into office with strong support from the Tea Party. She is from the South, which balances Romney's frigid Northern-ness. She has an Indian immigrant background, which would dispel the Romney Harvard old-boy image quite a bit. Since one effect of the primaries so far has been to alienate many women from the Republicans, this choice would help Romney win back female voters. Remember that without women voters Clinton and Obama would never have been elected. Had only men been voting, the Republicans would have held the presidency without a break since at least 1980.

Governor Rikki Haley

Then again, perhaps a young Latino is Romney's missing ingredient. In that case, the most exciting option might be Mark Rubio, Senator from Florida. He is of Cuban-American background, and one of the up-and-coming generation. This choice would also reach out to the Latino voters who have not been much drawn to the Republicans in recent elections. If nothing else, Rubio could deliver the largest swing state to the Romney column, freeing him to focus his campaign on other swing states. Rubio is a good public speaker, and will be a potential candidate for some time to come. He has just endorsed Romney.

Senator Mark Rubio

Yet another young face is New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, born in 1959. She is tough on crime and would appeal strongly to the Hispanics of Mexican background. Note, however, that New Mexico is a far less important swing state than Florida or Ohio, and she is not as well known as Rubio.

Gov. Susana Martinez

But thinking of swing states, Ohio Senator Rob Portman (below) might be just the man to deliver his state to the Romney camp. Portman, born in 1955, is a former White House budget chief under Bush II. However, I am guessing that two white men from Northern states, both focused on economics, is not the ideal team for the Republicans. To maximize the impact of their VP candidate, they need to show some sympathy with the Tea Party and/or the evangelicals and to show a more multicultural and youthful face.

Senator Rob Portman

These are four possibilities that each have something to offer the Romney campaign. For that matter three of them (but not Portman) would help Santorum, another white man from a Northern state, if he should manage to become the nominee. In the  unlikely event that Gingrich becomes the candidate, then a different slate of possible VPs would be needed.

Nevertheless, predicting the VP is generally a hopeless task. Who could have imagined that the first Bush would choose the maladroit Dan Quale? Or that Nixon would pick the obscure Spiro Agnew? Or that Obama would pick Joe Biden, for that matter.

These and other candidates considered likely possibilities have been discussed in the New York Times, whose list did not include any women.