Today’s Courier Herald Column:
Now that Mitt Romney has been established as the presumptive nominee, we will waste no time before speculating who his choice for Vice President will be. After all, it would be horrible to wait until a week or two before the choice is made, likely late August, before filling a column or two about who would best serve Mitt Romney as a running mate, and more importantly, who is best to put forward as the defacto future standard bearer for the Republican party.
The smart money for this pick is that it will be Marco Rubio, Florida’s junior Senator. He’s well liked by TEA Party activists, but has quickly earned the respect of party establishment types. He’s from the swingingest of swing states, Florida, which is a must win electoral bloc for Republicans. He’s young, so he has a long future in politics ahead of him and would still be considered young, albeit seasoned, for a potential presidential run in 2020. His Cuban heritage could even help the party’s image (and reality) among Hispanic voters.
Smart money aside, the Republicans should take a long look at the deep bench of governors they have assembled. Both President Obama and Vice President Biden were Senators. Their background is parliamentary, not one as executives who make decisions. President Obama’s first term has demonstrated this weakness, deferring many major decisions to Congress. A ticket of two executives, Romney both a former governor and business titan, bolstered by another accomplished “decider”, should contrast favorably to independent voters still looking for “change”.
Using the swing state strategy, John Kasich of Ohio is a great pick. He served as Budget Chairman in the U.S. House, and delivered the only budget surplus in modern history under his tenure. Thus, he has significant credibility on the fiscal issues likely to be part of the Republican campaign and unlike many current Congressional Republicans, doesn’t have to apologize for the 2000-2006 spending spree. Now as Governor, he’s rounded out his Washington resume with some experience as a Governor, albeit early in his first term. Still, he should make the short list.
Bobby Jindal also must receive serious consideration. Now in his second term, Jindal took over the mess that was post-Katrina Louisiana and has made it an attractive place to do business. His state is no longer the poster child for government corruption (Georgia puts hands in pockets, whistles, looks the other way). The BP Oil spill, a crisis that occurred on his watch, earned him high marks for the state’s response as well as a good understanding of how broken many federal response agencies still are.
The person that Mitt Romney most likely needs on the trail with him is Chris Christie. Romney does not go on the offensive well, and wealthy people tend to be cast as villains too quickly when they try. Romney will need to adopt a Reaganesque “Morning In America” theme of optimism, of a country that can do better. There is no one better on the Republican bench who can buttress this theme from the attack dog role than Christie. His press conferences are legendary in his ability to reject premises of questions designed to embed a negative light on a conservative agenda. His ability to stand up to powerful interest groups with plain talk and steel spine would be must see political theater in Washington.
While Romeny’s pick of Christie wouldn’t deliver a swing state, and would probably not even deliver New Jersey, it would send a message that the party intends to be a national party. Southerners may have an issue with this, and believe that the “base” must be placated with a social conservative. A Christie pick would be straight out of the Clinton playbook, who picked fellow Southerner Al Gore to be his VP. For those who don’t think Republicans should be looking at Clinton’s playbook, I respectfully submit that he served two terms by using it.
There are many others worthy of consideration. PeachPundit.com’s readers seem especially interested in having Condoleezza Rice in the mix. She’s certainly qualified if interested. Should foreign policy be dominating the debate by mid-summer, her name will be floated much more frequently.
It’s still early. One of the reasons to delay the pick until near or at the convention is to make sure the person is not only properly vetted (when the candidate remembers to do that), but to make sure the selection is the right one for the issues the campaign will face in the home stretch. Thus, you likely still have a few months to enjoy speculating about this.