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.

People are talking about everyone from Condoleeza Rice to Chris Christie. Who would I like to see on Romney ticket this cycle? There are a few.

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley Mitt Romney
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/

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.


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