John McCain obviously wants the country to begin thinking and talking about his selection of a running mate – otherwise, why did he invite three leading V.P. possibilities (Governors Mitt Romney, Charlie Crist and Bobby Jindal) to his home in Sedona, Arizona for a Memorial Day barbeque?
Each of the three visitors offers strengths and weaknesses to a potential ticket – as do the other names under consideration for the Republican nomination for Vice President of the United States.
The list below provides quick (and unabashedly opinionated) evaluations of all the leading contenders, and a few worthy dark horses.
PRO: Already well-known from his own Presidential race, accomplished as a TV debater, reassuring to conservatives uneasy with McCain, and possessor of the most appealing and wholesome family in American political history. Romney’s solid business background might also help to stem (or at least counteract) the surprising and disturbing flow of corporate cash to Obama. His executive experience in the business world and as Governor of Massachusetts will help make up for gaps in McCain’s resume. His background in Michigan (where his father was a popular governor) would help in a crucial swing state and Obama’s weak polling in Massachusetts suggests Romney might even put the Bay State in play.
CON: The same weaknesses that hampered his presidential campaign could also hurt him as a Vice Presidential candidate – including well-advertised flip-flops on key issues like abortion, guns and immigration. His embrace of McCain might also come across as another flip-flop after their bitter duel in the primaries. More seriously, Romney’s proudest achievement as Governor of Massachusetts, the bi-partisan creation of a statewide health insurance system known as “Romney-care,” looks more and more like a nightmarish disaster. Worst of all, the essential elements of that plan closely resemble Democratic health-care proposals for the nation at large – proposals that McCain has opposed as a dangerous expansion of government. Finally, Romney’s Mormon faith won’t hurt him in states where Evangelicals are important (McCain should be solid in those Southern and Midwestern states in any event) but it won’t help him among the Catholic, ethnic voters who provide the most important swing group in crucial battlegrounds like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.