We’re getting to the point in the campaign where Romney will have to announce his choice for vice-presidential candidate. It’s arguably the most important pre-election choice that a candidate can make. John McCain screwed it up horribly and memorably by selecting Sarah Palin; a completely unvetted selection who had very little experience, wasn’t going to gain him any real votes and who is quite possibly unbalanced. At about this time four years ago, I thought she was a possibly great choice. I soon learned I was wrong, and admitted as much. McCain still hasn’t. Palin was a terrible choice for him, and part of why he lost the election.
Now it’s Romney’s turn. Who will he pick? Who should he pick? Who will the base allow him to pick?
My guess is that he’s going to have to select someone who is extremely conservative. We’re talking nearly Santorum levels, here. Why? Because the base of conservatives doesn’t trust Romney. They look at the fact that, when he was running for governor of Massachusetts, he was pro-choice, in favor of gay marriage and put into place Romneycare, which has served as the model for Obamacare. He makes them very uncomfortable, and I doubt that his being Mormon helps. So not only will he need someone very conservative, he’s going to need someone who is a mainstream Christian.
However, Romney also needs someone who can help sway over independents. He’s a very weak candidate who in most polls leads only with white males, and he needs someone who, like Palin, can really energize people and get them excited about his campaign. If he picks another boring white man, he’s likely to just bore the hell out of people whose votes he really needs, and another extremist will only alienate the independent voters. This is where he needs someone who is basically the opposite of what the base wants. This puts him into a rather difficult situation.
All that in mind, let’s look over some possibilities.
Condoleeza Rice has had her name floated around lately as a possibility. Won’t happen. First, most voters still equate her with the Bush II administration, and rightly so. He’s political poison to the GOP and they know it. She’s also pro-choice. Plus, well, she’s a black woman, and that’s a bit too outside the comfort level for a large percentage, though not likely a majority, of the base. All that, plus the fact that she’s said in the past that she doesn’t want the job, makes her unlikely.
Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota who is such a non-entity, I had to double-check whether he’s the current or former governor of that state, is another one who has been floated. He’s…acceptable, probably. He seems fairly conservative, I guess. Uh. Hmmm. Uh. I wonder if there’s anything on TV? Oh, wait, no, I have to focus on this…this guy. God, he’s boring. I don’t seem him as being even remotely anyone who might energize…ah…hmmmm…where was I? Oh, yes. Pawlenty. Yeah…not likely, I guess. Hard to say. I can’t really focus on him enough to care.
Marco Rubio, a Senator from Florida, has been tossed around as a likely choice. He seems not horrible, but he won’t help shore up the Hispanic vote, despite what some people like to claim. Why? Because he’s of Cuban ancestry, and most of the Hispanic vote in this country has its origins in Mexico. If you’re a Cuban, it doesn’t matter how you get to this country, you get to stay. If you’re Mexican on the other hand…So there’s no real love lost between the two. He might, might help Romney win Florida, and that’s no small thing, but that’s about as far as he goes in usefulness.
Chris Christie of New Jersey has also been named. I suppose he wouldn’t be a bad choice, but New Jersey is likely to go Democrat no matter what, and I don’t see their massive number of electoral votes (fourteen), as being really worth it given the various problems that Christie might cause with the base. He would help with independents, though. But he’s another one who seems uninterested.
Then we have the various rejects from the GOP primary races. People like Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and the like. I don’t see any of them being even remotely appealing to independent voters. All of them basically have rather huge problems. Ron Paul might appeal to the independents, but the base would run away shrieking.
I think probably the most logical choice is one I mentioned four years ago; Louisiana governor Piyush “Bobby” Jindal. I’m sure a large portion of the base would wince at a guy named Piyush Jindal, no matter how he “southern ups” his name by using “Bobby”. But ignoring that, he seems to have reasonably solid, but not rabidly insane, conservative credentials. I think he could appeal to both the base and the independents, but not easily. He’d have to work at it, especially with the independents. You think the Christine O’Donnell witchcraft thing was fun? Just wait until Jindal’s odd version of Catholicism, complete with exorcisms, comes into play.
There is also the problem that he doesn’t really do anything geographically for Romney. The GOP is already going to win Louisiana and the surrounding states of Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas. To do anything geographically he’d have to go for a Rubio or someone who might win him California, but realistically, those things aren’t likely to happen.
Personally, I can’t stand the guy. His religious beliefs are weird, he’s personally kind of creepy and he likes to make really stupid remarks. I know this isn’t a choice for me or my side, though. So, yeah. Bobby Jindal. My guess as the best of a set of really kind of “meh” choices.