At first glance, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) seems a natural choice, since Rubio is Hispanic and Florida is a swing state with 29 electoral votes. However, a poll taken by Public Policy Polling in April found that Rubio actually hurts Romney's chances in Florida. In addition, the GOP base has become skeptical of Rubio's conservative credentials. The same poll found that putting former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on the ticket would help Romney in Florida, but Bush has firmly stated he is not interested in the position. Although he has generally been the favorite Bush of most Republicans, the dynasty has probably run its course. Both former presidents Bush have become associated with big government, and with W. sharing blame for the recession and bailouts, another Bush on the ticket could make it difficult to distinguish Obama's failed fiscal policies from Romney.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is popular with a significant portion of the Republican Party, but he would make the slate an all Northeastern ticket. Some conservatives are skeptical of how conservative the New Jersey Republican really is. He is also a larger than life personality that would likely overshadow Romney.
Tim Pawlenty would be a safe choice; while Republicans do not get excited about him, they do not dislike him either. Condoleeza Rice only endorsed Romney last week, evidence that she is telling the truth when she says she has no interest in being vice president.
Last month, National Journal selected Rob Senator Portman (R-OH) as Romney's most likely VP pick. Although Ohio is a key battleground state with 18 electoral votes, Portman is too unknown to be a realistic choice.
Romney met informally with Rand Paul (R-KY) last week, sparking rumors that he was being considered. However, Paul is too closely associated with his father Ron Paul (R-TX) and his polarizing views on foreign policy. While the junior Paul is not as divisive as his father, he may not be able to escape the negative energy that the senior Paul's supporters have created around him.
The dark horse pick is New Mexico governor Susana Martinez. Last week she came out even more strongly than Romney on illegal immigration, questioning the effectiveness of self-deportation. New Mexico is considered a swing state, and choosing Martinez would put both a minority and a woman on the ticket. Based on the fact she is a relatively new governor, though, she may be considered too similar to Palin.
Romney is a predictably savvy, calculating, political candidate. He will choose a safe running mate for vice president. The conservative base would love to see him pick someone like Rep. Allen West (R-FL), but Allen would be too much of a lightening rod for the liberal media. Romney chose a moderate Republican from Utah, former Governor Mike Leavitt, to head his transition team. Leavitt will most likely urge Romney to go with someone safe, not flashy. My money is on Governor Walker, followed by Rep. Ryan.