Five Most Likely Picks for Romney’s Running Mate
With the Republican National Convention just three weeks away, we’re getting closer to Mitt Romney naming his running mate in 2012. Romney’s campaign has launched a smartphone app that will tip supporters off to his pick before anyone else knows, at least in theory.
Awaiting the pick is sort of like looking at top prospects for a Major League Baseball team or analyzing draft picks before the NFL Draft. Last week, The Hill reported that Beth Myers, the head of Romney’s VP search team, was on hand for a rally with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell — much like a scout at a game looking at a potential target’s stuff.
Back in April, I looked at some of the frequently mentioned names in the conversation as Romney was beginning his search for a running back. But speculation has been rampant in recent days and announcement could come literally any day now, here is look at the five most likely picks for Romney.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell: Much like Ohio, the Commonwealth of Virginia is a “must-win” for Romney. While Portman is relatively unknown in his home state, McDonnell has a 55% approval rating in Virginia. Unemployment is at 5.6%, which easily bests the national rate of 8.3%.
McDonnell hasn’t exactly lit fires under conservatives during his term, but as Jennifer Rubin noted yesterday, McDonnell has also proven that he can be the attack dog that a running mate needs to be. Even with recent controversy over a law McDonnell signed that requires a woman to have an ultrasound before having an abortion does run the risk of bringing back the “war on women” meme. The pros of picking McDonnell outweigh the cons, and that could be what puts him over the top.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman: As of now, it looks like Portman is the most likely pick. Given that no candidate in the last 11 cycles has won the presidential election without winning the Buckeye State, there is no question that the road to the White House will run through Ohio. Portman has in recent days expressed his frustration with spending under George W. Bush, who he served under as budget director.
But a Quinnipiac poll back in May found that Portman didn’t add anything to the ticket for Romney in Ohio. Portman’s approval ratings were above water at 38/23, but Buckeye State voters weren’t very familar with him.
Since he’s served in the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate; Portman brings a lot of experience to the table, which is something that Romney will need. However, that experience could also be a negative given that Portman viewed as the “insider pick” for Romney’s running mate. That’s probably not a smart move when it comes down to it.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan: While he would arguably be the most controversial pick, Ryan’s name has come up in recent days as one of the three most likely picks. Despite some big-government leanings, Ryan’s budget proposal — the Path to Prosperity — has been a rallying point for House Republicans and Tea Party activists alike. But that could also be a vulnerability in a general election as President Obama and Democrats in Congress have demagogued it at almost every turn.
Much like McDonnell, Ryan has proven himself to be an able attack dog. As I noted in June when it was reported that he was being vetted, Ryan has one of the most memorable exchanges of the healthcare debate in 2010 when he took on President Obama during a summit over the issue.
Ryan would bring some youth to the ticket and a potential successor to Romney in eight years or as a frontrunner for the Republican nomination, provided his does well, in 2016.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: While not as likely as the three names above, Jindal, a former Congressman, has proven himself to a policy-minded governor that has pushed school choice and ethics reform, which is always a plus with voters. Jindal is popular with conservatives, which could make up for where Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is unlikely to be.
But while he is popular in Louisiana, the state is almost certainly headed to Romney, so his presence, while a positive with conservatives, doesn’t really do much to gain electoral votes in a crucial state.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty: While he’s the least likely pick of the names listed, Pawlenty has been mentioned in the conversation. While he managed to win twice in a traditionally “blue state,” Pawlenty didn’t so much fight during the race for the Republican presidential nomination. It’s hard to forget his unwillingness to attack Romney on healthcare, which doesn’t lend much confidence to anyone looking someone to be an attack dog.
Still occasionally being mentioned, but not likely picks are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
McDonnell or Jindal make the most sense given that they, as successful and relatively popular governors, meet the criteria set forward Beth Myers and are much less controversial than, say, Paul Ryan.
So, do you think Romney will pick from the five listed above or will his campaign surprise everyone with an off-the-radar selection?