There are rumors that Mitt Romney may select his vice-presidential running mate in advance of the Republican National Convention in August. Speeding up the process would boost his fundraising for a few extra weeks. Conservatives are worried Romney will pick a moderate establishment candidate, while the establishment is worried Romney will pick someone seen as too extreme by the independents who generally decide presidential elections.
Romney will most likely avoid making the kind of choice John McCain did by picking Sarah Palin. Although Palin energized the base, she became a relentless target of the media. He will not want to choose a candidate who will eclipse him, which eliminates someone like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He needs a running mate that the base finds acceptable, if not exciting, in order to counter his lackluster reputation with conservatives. Someone from a swing state with many electoral votes will get top consideration. Another important, but not mandatory, criterion is fundraising ability of a running mate, which means they cannot be an unknown.
A source from last week's 2012 Bilderberg Conference leaked out that the ultra secretive, powerful organization comprised of the biggest names in politics and finance has selected Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to be Romney's running mate. While considered a very safe pick, Daniels is such a low-key figure he may not bring much to the ticket.
A running mate that would energize the base is Paul Ryan (R-WI). Wisconsin is a swing state, and Walker has become a recognized champion of cutting fiscal waste. The conservative grassroots likes him and his good looks don't hurt.
Another likely VP pick is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Obama will not campaign for Walker's opponent, realizing how popular Walker is. Obama currently leads Romney in Wisconsin by eight points among likely voters and does not want to rock the boat. Walker is leading his recall challenger by the same margin. Walker has become a hero to the grassroots and Tea Party for taking on public employee unions. If Romney picks Walker after surviving a recall election, it would rally the conservative base, something Romney needs.
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.
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