In a year that has seemed so bleak for Republicans, John McCain not only can upset Barack Obama and win the White House, he can change the voting dynamic of American Jews. With the Democratic and Republican national conventions scheduled over the next three weeks, both presumptive nominees could announce their running mates at any moment. Among a field of imperfect potential options, U.S. Representative Eric Cantor (R – Virginia) may be McCain's best option, and he is a good choice indeed.
Several vice-presidential contenders continue to be discussed in McCain's circles, from the obvious (Mitt Romney) to the slightly more obscure (Tim Pawlenty and Tom Ridge) to the dark horses (Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, and Joe Lieberman). While Romney would make a solid VP nominee, particularly given his fundraising prowess and expertise on financial affairs, he continues to be hurt by, among other things, his Mormon identity, which some evangelical Christians seem loathe to embrace. As unfair as that may be to Romney, this is a reality that McCain must confront.
Eric Cantor, however, who was largely unknown until his name recently appeared on McCain's veep short-list, could have a profound, long-lasting effect on party politics. Cantor also satisfies more of the vice-presidential considerations than any other candidate. He is young (45), but not inexperienced (seven years in Congress). Simultaneously, he is somewhat anonymous and thus avoids the trapped-in-the-Beltway image that has tainted many of his longer-serving colleagues. Cantor is from Virginia, which has become an important swing state this year that could go Democratic, especially if Obama chooses its governor, Tim Kaine, as his running mate.
Cantor has private-sector experience as a real-estate developer and has served on the House's committees on Financial Services, International Relations, and Ways and Means. These three posts strengthen his credentials on this election's two most important issues: foreign policy and the economy.