If this race were still competitive, the Romney-Rubio campaign stops could be easily explained away as a presidential candidate showcasing one of his most popular endorsers ahead of a contested primary. But the nomination is virtually over, so what to make of this? Might Team Romney be offering Keystone State voters a tantalizing preview of coming attractions? I appeared on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto last evening to break down the VP buzz surroudning a quartet of potential running mates, including Florida's junior US Senator:
Of that group, I'd argue that Martinez is the least likely to end up on the ticket, followed -- perhaps -- by Rubio. The media is parsing the hell out of his every utterance regarding the VP slot, but I'm starting to suspect that he really means it when he repeatedly insists he's not going to be the guy. Then again, this little development is giving me second thoughts about that conclusion. Bob McDonnell and "insider" pick Rob Portman are said to be "safer" choices, which some people might interpret to mean "boring." But as I've written before, the Romney camp is probably aiming for a we're credible and competent public posture; excitement doesn't necessarily need to be a big element of the winning equation this cycle. Missing from the Cavuto segment were a trio of additional prominent rumored running mates: Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, and Paul Ryan. Setting aside his litany of obvious strengths, Christie as Veep doesn't seem to wash. Would Romney really choose a fellow moderate-ish northeastern governor -- especially one who would probably outshine him on the trail? And despite his signaling that he'd consider the gig, would a strong personality like Christie really want to be relegated to the number two position, especially when he's building momentum and popularity at home?
That leaves Jindal and Ryan. I think Jindal is a real wild card in this conversation. He was just re-elected by a jaw-dropping margin in a Southern state and has emerged as an effective Obama policy critic. He's also recently ushered in some serious conservative education reforms in Louisiana. In other words, the guy is a legit heavyweight. I know some people continue to natter about his subpar State of the Union response from a few years back, but that's ancient history. Bill Clinton laid a massive egg as the keynote speaker at the DNC in 1988, yet was elected president four years later. If he's selected, Democrats would likely peddle certain stories about Jindal's faith -- they'll be doing so with Romney's Mormonism, too -- but even Chris Matthews realizes that approach projects fear about running on their failed record. I suppose the Perry endorsement could be a strike against Jindal in some Romney loyalists' minds, but is that it? What else am I missing? The Left will also endlessly try to tie Romney to Paul Ryan's budget, a tactic with which both Romney and Ryan seem fairly comfortable. Why not own it and stick Ryan on the ticket, particularly if the pair naturally clicks? Is anyone more fluent on these issues than the Wisconsin Congressman? Given his message clarity, encyclopedic knowledge of the numbers, and genial earnestness, I suspect the more Americans see of Paul Ryan, they more they'll like and respect him. He would defend the ticket's policies with aplomb, while delivering damning reminders that Democrats have done exactly squat to address critical questions about unsustainable entitlements and debt. It's getting worse, and they don't seem to care in the least, moving to violate the very law they currently claim to be their "budget." And oh, by the way, Medicare's trustees released a report this week confirming that "Medicare as we know it" will cease to exist in 2024 -- which we've been writing about for more than a year. Any ideas, Democrats? And this doesn't count, according to the GAO. For more on the 2012 Veepstakes, check out the forthcoming edition of Townhall Magazine: