Hugh Hewitt

With Mitt Romney all but universally acknowledged as the GOP certain nominee, attention has quickly and rightly turned to speculation about the former Massachusetts governor’s running mate.

I say “rightly” because not only will the choice greatly impact the election result, it could also profoundly shape American history if that choice were to become the president on short notice.

The latter consideration is what Romney has often said will guide his deliberations, and anyone with even a passing knowledge of Romney’s earnestness accepts this as a given. There are thus three names which have to be at the top of “the list” along with the usual suspects of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Indeed, there are good reasons for the odds-makers to put these three atop the leader board ahead of those four.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is to the 2012 GOP veepstakes what Romney himself was to 2008 competition to be John McCain’s running mate: the obvious, safe and in some important respects, a compelling choice to be the #2.

Pawlenty knows full well what the national campaign feels like and requires. His family is ready for it having embarked upon it once. His wonderful and able spouse would be a great asset to the campaign, and his circle of close advisors and supporters is talent rich and very loyal.

Pawlenty also knows how to win blue states and brings a compelling personal story, deft sense of humor and superb media skills. The nay-sayers chirp that he is dull, but dull may well be the new cool in a year in which the U.S.-as-Greece is on many voters’ minds. Minnesota is a reach, but Pawlenty has cross-border appeal in both Wisconsin and Iowa, key swing states.

And Pawlenty has a solid indeed spectacular eight years of governing under his belt, years that included crises like the collapse of the I-35W bridge and many legislative showdowns, as well as many visits to war zones and a superb record on judicial selection.

Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt is host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Hugh Hewitt's new book is The War On The West.