Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

4-23 Veep choice could be a game changer

42312 Veep

SANTA FE – Now that Gov. Mitt Romney has become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, one of his biggest decisions will be to choose a GOP vice-presidential candidate.
It could be the Romney campaign's biggest decision. The choice of Sarah Palin four years ago definitely was the biggest decision of John McCain's campaign. His advisers figured a game changing veep choice was needed in order to win.
The choice of Palin was a game changer but it didn't take the campaign to victory. It quickly became evident that the choice hadn't been fully thought out and Palin hadn't been fully vetted.
That doesn't appear to be a problem with Gov. Romney. His corporate experience is expected to move him in the direction of a methodical, low-risk decision.
Romney already has given evidence of his selection process. His staff for the vetting and analysis will be composed of a small group of longtime advisers. The process will be deliberate and may not conclude until shortly before the Republican National Convention in late May.
Romney should be looking for someone who is strong where Romney is weak. That might be someone who is forceful, truly conservative and charismatic. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie likely is the best example. Donald Trump has been mentioned.
But such a person would upstage Romney who is accustomed to being the top dog. George W. Bush, the compassionate conservative, was willing to let Dick Cheney nominate himself for vice president. That's not in Romney's character. Neither is choosing someone like Newt Gingrich or South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Romney is said to want someone with experience who is ready for the job. Former two-term Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty falls in that category. He was an early entry in the presidential race. He has a working class background, which would be helpful. Romney would have no fear of Pawlenty upstaging him.
The same loyalty and lack of charisma attributes apply to Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. Portman was George W. Bush's director of the Office of Management and Budget and held top positions under President George H.W. Bush.
Rep. Paul Ryan is the creator of the congressional budget plan. He's good with figures but will not be good with many Democrats and Independents because of his thoughts on Medicare. On the plus side, Ryan comes from humble beginnings, which would make the ticket appear more in touch with middle-class economic problems.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio seems to be the favorite of most Republican leaders, especially now that he has announced he is working on a Republican version of the DREAM Act. The act would allow children who came to this country illegally with their parents to become legal but not citizens.
That still is heresy to the far right but it is exciting other Republicans who know if they lose Hispanic voters to President Barack Obama by the 67-27 margin with which he currently is leading in the most recent poll, they are not going to win the presidential election.
Some Hispanic organizations are saying that if it is Rubio's plan or nothing, it may be difficult to turn it down. But Democrats are saying Rubio's plan will be a campaign gimmick and nothing more because it won't pass – and certainly not before the November election. Democrats can stall it and not let it reach a vote.
Romney doesn't seem to be as excited about Rubio as many other Republicans are. He is reported to not attach much importance to choosing a running mate from a battleground state or an important demographic. Florida Sen. Rubio is from a battleground state and is Hispanic.
The apparent Romney attitude isn't going to help New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez who represents two important demographics. She is a female Hispanic. New Mexico still is considered a battleground state but not as marginal as it used to be prior to the 2008 presidential election which Obama won handily.


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