NBC News is reporting the Mitt Romney presidential campaign has had the time to settle on three finalists for a running mate in between throwing the Boy Scouts and Chick-fil-a under the bus, praising the disaster that is Romneycare, and doing its best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in an election that should be a slam dunk.
Romney Unofficial Campaign Svengali Karl Rove is even saying Romney could announce his choice any day now, so it’s time for me to share my final thoughts on Romney’s potential VP selection.
Let’s look at who NBC says are Romney’s three finalists — Ohio Senator Rob Portman, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.
Of that trio, the only candidate that has a chance to help Romney is Ryan. He is a young, movement conservative from a battleground state. Although Ryan himself is not a charismatic figure, his budget play to reign in out of control government spending would energize the base in a way Romney is incapable of doing. In my opinion, the biggest problem Romney has is a base that is not inspired by his candidacy. If I could sum up what most of my conservative friends around the country think it would be this statement: “I can’t stand Romney, but if Obama gets another four years we are screwed.”
Ryan’s selection would also give Romney the benefit of something he desperately needs in order to close the sale with the voters. Ryan’s budget proposal draws a sharp and specific distinction between Romney’s candidacy and the Obama Regime. It’s laughable the Republican establishment thinks Ryan is too risky, despite the fact he’s one of only six current House Republicans to vote for TARP, the automobile bailout, all the continuing resolutions funding the Obama Regime, and the debt ceiling increase. If that’s too risk for Romney, then just get out of the race now and spare us a do-nothing Romney presidency.
So far, Romney is running the Republican establishment’s pale pastels playbook, hoping that since most Americans think Obama sucks he doesn’t have to stand for anything. That’s not working, and it’s the number one reason why if the election were held today that Romney would lose.
Romney needs exactly what the incestuous political hacks surrounding his campaign are warning him against. He needs a bold colors big issue to show the country they will get something substantively different from a Romney presidency compared to another four years of Obama. Otherwise, voters will go with the devil they know.
If Ryan helps Romney, Pawlenty hurts him. For example, I would essentially write off my home state of Iowa if I were the Romney campaign should Pawlenty be the selection. Pawlenty was laughed off the national stage by Republican primary voters for being a wimp. Just days before the crucial Iowa Straw Poll, Pawlenty looked me in the eye and told me he was running for president to stop somebody like Romney from being our nominee. Within 30 days he had dropped out of the race and endorsed Romney.
As a candidate himself, Pawlenty rallied absolutely no constituency that Romney needs. Romney won’t win Minnesota even with Pawlenty on the ticket. Pawlenty’s selection would mean the top quality Romney was looking for in a running mate was a step-it-and-fetch-it sycophant. That is a stereotype Willard does not need to reinforce. Conservatives around the country are already on tilt about the clumsiness and milquetoast message of the Romney campaign, to the point some are wondering if Romney actually wants to win. Selecting Pawlenty would be a sign that perhaps they really don’t.
If Portman is the pick the campaign remains status quo. Any potential enthusiasm for his selection will be offset by the same “meh” reaction from the base that Romney’s very candidacy has produced. Perhaps Portman can help Romney in the key swing state of Ohio. On the other hand, my guess is the Obama Regime would love to see Portman on the ticket, because before he became a U.S. Senator one of the several political posts he held was the Budget Director for President George W. Bush. The Obama Regime would love nothing more than to run against George W. Bush again, and Portman presents them the excuse to do that.
The number one thing Romney needs from this pick is to inspire his base. There are several names that do this more than any of the three finalists NBC is reporting. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is another young movement conservative with extensive chief executive experience, and has a record of cutting government spending and standing for social issues the base believes in.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio is a rock star, and comes from a key battleground state. Romney would more than likely win that vital state with Rubio on the ticket, and he brings an energy and a passion the Romney campaign currently lacks. Like Jindal, it obviously doesn’t hurt that he’s a minority. Rubio or Jindal also gives Republicans a chance to have a broad discussion with the country about the American dream, which in a recent Rasmussen Poll only 14% of Americans still believe in.
But the person who would help Romney the most is former presidential rival Mike Huckabee, who has seen his popularity soar thanks to the exposure he gets from his broadcasting endeavors. Huckabee is one of the most popular Republicans in America. He energizes Romney’s base more than anybody else is capable, and his populist streak appeals to middle class voters who are fed up with Obama’s failures, but not yet ready to embrace another rich white guy with ruling class ties as an alternative. Huckabee softens Romney’s corporatist image, which the Obama Regime thinks is their best chance at another four years to complete the Marxist mission. If Romney put Huckabee on the ticket the election would be his to lose.
Steve Deace's nationally-syndicated radio show airs coast-to-coast each weeknight from 9-Midnight eastern, including many of the Salem Radio Network's top conservative talk stations in markets like New York City, Houston, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Minneapolis. His radio program has been featured in major media such as Fox News, CBS News, ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, The Weekly Standard, and National Review among others. In 2013 he wrote the second-most shared column of the year for USA Today, defending "Duck Dynasty" and traditional American values. In addition to being a contributor for Town Hall.com, Deace is also a columnist for The Washington Times. He is also the author of the new book Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again, which includes a foreword by David Limbaugh and is endorsed by a who's who of conservative leaders. You can follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.