The Republican presidential primary race may be solidifying around a small group of frontrunners, but the crop of potential vice presidential nominees is still wide open.Will it be a Tea Party darling to shore up support from that faction? Or perhaps a moderate governor to temper a firebrand nominee?
Let us know in the comment section if there is someone else you think should be on the list.
WHO HE IS: McDonnell became an early Tea Party favourite by opposing Obamacare -- he supported a lawsuit brought by his state's Attorney General arguing that the law is unconstitutional. He has just been selected to replace Texas Gov. Rick Perry as the head of the Republican Governors Association while Perry pursues his presidential bid.
WHY HE'S A CONTENDER: As head of the RGA, McDonnell's national profile will rise, as will his ability to raise money for his political ambitions. His conservative cred could help Mitt Romney shore up support from the right, while his Southern roots might fit well with a Perry candidacy. In 2008, President Obama became the first Democrat to carry Virginia since 1964, so adding McDonnell to the GOP ticket could help the party reclaim their longtime stronghold.
WHO HE IS: A freshman senator, Rubio is a rising star in the Republican party, a young, well-coiffed conservative who handily trumped two contenders -- including sitting Republican Gov. Charlie Crist -- in last year's election. Rubio's mix of telegenicism and conservatism had some Republicans hoping he would launch a presidential bid, but Rubio has insisted he is sitting this one out.
WHY HE'S A CONTENDER: Rubio may still wind up on the GOP ticket, where he could boost the party in his home state, which once again looks like it will play a central role in deciding the presidential election. Rubio's Cuban heritage could also help a Republican nominee pick up a larger share of the rapidly expanding Latino vote in states like New Mexico and Colorado, both of which went for Obama in 2008.
WHO HE IS: In his two years as governor, Christie has taken on teachers unions and slashed state spending, much to the delight of fiscal conservatives. The tough-talking governor of a typically blue state is still fighting off calls for him to run for president -- he once joked that he would have to commit suicide to end the speculation about whether he would run -- but he has said nothing about a potential gig as the party's vice presidential nominee.
WHY HE'S A CONTENDER: Christie's conservative cred has deficit hawks clamoring for him to seek the presidency, and adding Christie in the V.P. slot may generate the same enthusiasm. Christie could also bring broader regional appeal to a Southern nominee like Perry, and his populist rhetoric could play well in an election focused on the sluggish economy.
WHO HE IS: Ryan vaulted into the national spotlight this year as the architect of the Republican plan to reduce the deficit and reform entitlement spending. Though that proposal riled Democrats and some independents, it earned plenty of praise from members of his own party. As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, he was front and centre in the debt ceiling showdown this summer, and will continue to stay in the foreground of future spending fights set to unfold in Congress in the lead up to 2012.
WHY HE'S A CONTENDER: Republicans looking for a fiscal conservative candidate frantically courted Ryan this summer, but the Wisconsin Congressman said this month that he has officially ruled out a presidential bid. Adding Ryan to the ticket could energize conservatives, particularly for a nominee like Romney, who has struggled to court the party's right wing. Ryan's budget smarts and calls for deep budget cuts would help unite fiscal conservatives and Tea Partiers behind a Republican ticket.
WHO SHE IS: With her victory in the New Mexico's 2010 gubernatorial contest, Martinez became the first Latina governor in U.S. history.
WHY SHE'S A CONTENDER: Martinez could help a Republican nominee make inroads with female and non-white voters, particularly the growing Latino vote. Her place on the ticket would also virtually guarantee a GOP win in New Mexico, which went to Obama in 2008.
WHO HE IS: The freshman senator has already made a name for himself among deficit hawks, and has been named to the Congressional supercommittee charged with reducing the deficit. His fiscal conservative cred is largely attributable to his roles as U.S. Trade Representative and OMB Director under President George W. Bush.
WHY HE'S A CONTENDER: Victorious presidential candidates have carried Ohio in all but one election since 1944, so a Republican nominee may tap Portman as the No. 2 to get a leg up in the swing state. Portman would also bring over two decades of experience in the federal government to a Republican ticket, something that could help a less experienced candidate in the way that Vice President Joe Biden's foreign policy credentials helped assuage concerns about President Obama's inexperience.
WHO HE IS: Thune declared early on that he would not run for president, despite some speculation that he would make a play for the White House. He was also rumoured to be on John McCain's V.P. short list in 2008.
WHY HE'S A CONTENDER: Though Thune declined to run for president, he left the door open for a V.P. candidacy, telling NBC's David Gregory, 'I don't think you rule any options out in politics.' Thune has decent conservative credentials, even though he voted in favour of the 2008 bank bailout. He also has a proven ability to raise tons of cash -- his successful 2004 campaign to unseat then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle was the most expensive Senate race that year.
WHO SHE IS: Haley is a relative newcomer to politics, yet her successful gubernatorial campaign attracted national attention in 2010. Sarah Palin gave her candidacy the seal of approval last year, making Haley a favourite among Tea Party types.
WHY SHE'S A CONTENDER: The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley could benefit a GOP ticket by siphoning support from two key Democratic blocs: women, and non-white voters. Mitt Romney handed her gubernatorial campaign an early endorsement, and he could tap her for his running mate should he secure the party nod, especially since she would help broaden his appeal in Southern states.
WHO HE IS: Daniels opted not to launch a presidential campaign this year despite pressure from a bloc of Establishment Republicans looking for a fiscal conservative to get in the race. Daniels successfully rolled back collective bargaining rights for the state's public unions in 2005, and did so without prompting the intense backlash that has dogged other Republican governors who've pursued similar policies.
WHY HE'S A CONTENDER: Daniels, the director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, would bring a wealth of budget experience that could bolster the candidacy of a relatively inexperienced nominee. He did, however, draw some ire from social conservatives this year by calling for a truce on social issues, although he has since mitigated criticism by signing a bill banning all state funds from Planned Parenthood.
WHO HE IS: Although Giuliani's mayoral tenure ended in 2001, he has stayed active in politics, leveraging his 9/11 success to a 2008 presidential bid. He says he hasn't ruled out a presidential campaign just yet, but he could also make a play for the White House as his party's No. 2 next year.
WHY HE'S A CONTENDER: As a moderate mayor from a Northeastern city, Giuliani could help balance a ticket headed by a more conservative candidate like Bachmann or Perry. Giuliani's leadership of New York City in the wake of 9/11 also earned him significant name recognition nationally, which could also make him an appealing pick.
WHO: Jon Huntsman served as governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009, and then as the U.S. Ambassador to China under President Obama. He's currently campaigning to be the GOP presidential nominee, though his candidacy hasn't gained much traction.
WHY: Huntsman is a rare type of Republican, one who freely says that climate change and evolution are real. He could serve as a moderate counterweight to a far-right nominee -- unless he alienates the entire party before then.
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