The Romney Veepstakes: Will He Pick a Game Changer?
Mitt Romney has spent the primary season making sure we know how important it is that our next president has executive experience. He's reminded us at every turn how much of his life he's spent at the helm of corporations, even seizing a couple of uncouth opportunities to tell us how many friends in high places his success in executive positions have earned him. It would make sense, then, to look at some of the GOP’s most well-trained and experienced executives for The Rominee’s veep shortlist -- but if recent history is any indication, we'd be looking in the wrong place.
John McCain's campaign revolved around his foreign relations experience, but when it came down to picking the other half of his ticket, he chose none other than Sarah Palin, a little-known woman from the wilds of Alaska. And how could we forget the extent of her foreign relations experience? You know, being able to see Russia from her house.
Barack Obama ran on Hope and Change -- and, perhaps more notable than his campaign slogan, on being something entirely different -- but that didn’t stop him from bringing Joe Biden on board. Joe Biden: white guy, white hair, career politician. Doesn’t get much more the same than that. (Unless you count the train travel, but few people do.)
When it comes down to it, prospective presidents need a veep to augment their presence on the national stage, someone with strength in their greatest areas of weakness -- whether or not that person would make the very best president in a pinch. Barack needed a familiar look and feel to ground his campaign; John, not unlike Mitt, needed a fresh face to bring excitement, energy, and a relatable presence to the podium.
Of course, it’d be a lot easier to narrow things down if we could expect "Mittens" to choose a running mate with executive experience. It’s not like the list of his weaknesses is short to begin with; the man is rife with shortcomings. Contrary to John Boehner’s delusions, Romney continues to struggle with likability. Despite the absence of rival Rick Santorum, he hasn’t been able to assemble a concrete base among Republicans. Women and minorities support him almost as much as a stick in the eye -- okay, maybe a little more than a stick in the eye, but not much.
If Romney wants to wrap this thing up -- and with Newt ducking out later this week, I presume he does -- he’s going to need someone young, someone exciting, someone who can bring in the minority vote. Does anyone fit the bill? Well, not exactly, but he has a few decent choices. What remains to be seen is whether or not he’ll go veep fishing in the right pool.
Jan. 20, 2012 - Greenville, South Carolina, U.S. - South Carolina governor NIKKI HALEY and MITT ROMNEY share a funny moment after Governor Haley misspoke during a rally for Mitt Romney at Larkin's Saw MIll event center in Greenville, South Carolina. (Credit Image: © Sean Meyers/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Pros: An Indian-American woman from the south, a Tea Party favorite, and a fixture on the national stage in her own right -- her book, Can’t Is Not an Option, debuted earlier this year -- Nikki is young, fresh, and exciting enough to bring vigor to Romney's bid for Pennsylvania Avenue. As governor of South Carolina, she even has a bit of that executive experience Mitt likes to talk about.
Cons: Nikki has already put her foot in her mouth once this year, telling hosts of The View that "women don’t care about contraception." It was likely a misunderstanding, but it could turn off some moderate women voters. She may also be associated with Sarah Palin, something that could work for or against her: Palin was poorly perceived by the public four years ago, but her popularity seems to have increased since then. Haley’s not as unknown as Palin, but she is a beautiful, young governor, which may or may not remind voters of the 2008 McCain-Palin ticket. They turned down an old white guy-young brunette woman option four years ago; would they feel the same way this time? I suppose, if Romney taps Haley, only time will tell.
April 3, 2012 - Waukesha, WI, USA - Tracy Davies' children Taylor, 2, and Andrew, 5, pose for photos with GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, right, and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) at Cousins Subs in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Tuesday, April 3, 2012. The Wisconsin primary was held today. (Credit Image: © Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Pros: Paul Ryan’s baby face makes him relatable to America’s youth. The 42-year-old senator has played an integral part in the establishment of the GOP Young Guns program and he has a solid conservative track record, with strong re-election support in his home district. Ryan is also a Catholic, which may inspire confidence in conservative Christians -- especially Catholics -- after the birth control mandate fiasco of early 2012. He’s also a family man on his first marriage with three young children; conservative women liked Santorum for his family-man image, Ryan may be able to cultivate a similar presence.
Cons: Unfortunately, Ryan is still a white guy from Wisconsin and “exciting” isn’t exactly how most would describe his addresses to the nation. Racial minorities can’t strongly relate to him and it remains to be seen whether or not he can kick up his energy level to appeal to young voters.
April 23, 2012 - Aston, PA, USA - Republican candidate and former Gov. Mitt Romney, right, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) meet with reporters before holding a town hall meeting at Mustang Expediting in Aston, Pennsylvania, Monday, April 23, 2012. (Credit Image: © David Maialetti/Philadelphia Daily News/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Pros: The son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio has strong ties to racial minorities -- especially hispanics -- and could stand to pull in their vote in November. He, like both Haley and Ryan, is a young face in the GOP party and, like Ryan, a Catholic.
Cons: Unfortunately, Rubio’s alternative DREAM Act hasn’t made him the picture of conservative confidence, and Romney doesn’t need any help with the "moderate flip-flopper" bit. He’s also not as experienced as some of Romney’s other options.
Of course, there’s a whole nation full of GOP politicians out there for Romney to choose from, some are simply better candidates than others and chances are, it won’t be long before we find out just which of those he’s bringing aboard.
Who would you like to see on the GOP ticket?