Photo: Associated Press
There has been a major shakeup in Mitt Romney’s vice presidential horse race over the last few days, at least according to the national news media. The latest InTrade odds show Republican darling Marco Rubio is falling, in the wake of a recent ABC report that he wasn’t being vetted by Mitt Romney‘s search team. Romney denied the story, but it still led to a surge of speculation about former 2012 candidate Tim Pawlenty, whose InTrade odds experienced a meteoric rise this week. Conventional favourite Rob Portman’s prospects have stayed about the same. Meanwhile, most voters still barely even know who any of these candidates are.
Of course, any V.P. talk is still premature, but that hasn’t stopped speculation from reaching a fever pitch. Will Romney play it safe? Or will he surprise us all with a splashy — but risky — pick?
WHY HE'LL BE VP: He's the safe pick. Republicans like him because they think he's a good candidate. They also like him because he's not overpowering and not very controversial. Politico described him as 'vanilla, wonky and unflappable,' which may suit Romney just fine. He also happens to be a Senator from the oh-so-important swing state of Ohio. The Wall Street Journal called him the 'un-Palin,' which is what the Romney team wants.
He's also a respected voice who can hit Obama on the federal deficit. He was head of the OMB under President George W. Bush, and was on the debt ceiling 'supercommittee' last year. In February, he released an analysis on the fiscal irresponsibility of the Obama administration. But some of those resume points could work against him.
WHY HE WON'T BE: The 'boring' factor also works against him, because even his own constituents don't know who he is. He's 'one of the most anonymous Senators in the country,' Public Policy Polling found last month, with 36 per cent of Ohioans having no opinion on his work as a Senator. It also found that he doesn't really help Romney there. And an astounding 62 per cent of America does not know who Portman is, according to a Gallup poll released yesterday.
There's also the problem that he can be tied easily to the economic policies of George W. Bush. Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod offered a preview in late April of how the campaign will hit Portman:
'The challenge with Senator Portman, is that Senator Portman was one of the architects of the last administration's budget policies,' Axelrod said.
'And it's just one more sign--if he does that,' Axelrod added of Romney picking him as the vice presidential nominee, 'that he wants to go back to those policies.'
WHY HE'LL BE VP: When he declared he was running for president in May 2011, Pawlenty was, for a brief moment, considered front-runner for the nomination. Now, the buzz on Pawlenty is starting to pick up steam again, this time for the No. 2 spot. Politico taps him as the guy who can provide the 'regular-guy, working-man connection with voters in casual settings.'
WHY HE WON'T BE: There's a reason that McCain passed on Pawlenty in 2008 for Palin. First, there's Pawlenty's unfavorability in his own state--51 per cent of voters there don't want to see him run again. He's also another rather bland candidate that might struggle to fire up the base -- similar to Portman, but not thought of as highly among Republican brass. The Star-Tribune pointed out the one word that usually follows his name: 'boring.'
WHY HE'LL BE VP: Until this week, Rubio was the front-runner in the Romney veepstakes for quite some time, despite multiple denials that he wants the job. He's young, Hispanic, and he can energize the base. In short, he's the GOP's Golden Boy.
WHY HE WON'T BE: Is Marco Rubio the next Sarah Palin? Moving past the 'wow' factor, it's easy to see some of the same things in Rubio today that Republican leaders saw in Palin at this time in 2008. A major theme in the Mitt Romney campaign is his experience--particularly in the private-sector business area, and Marco Rubio has none of that. There are also doubts about Rubio's ability to actually bring Hispanics to the party.
WHY HE'LL BE VP: People view Christie as the anti-politician -- a down-to-earth guy and a 'straight shooter' who 'tells it like it is.' He's a campaign 'bulldog' that could provide round-the-clock booming attacks on Barack Obama. Public Policy Polling found in April that he helps Romney the most as the second name on the ticket--more than Rubio, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum. He is also viewed favourably by 50 per cent of New Jersey.
And he hates Jersey Shore, which probably works in his favour for most Americans.
WHY HE WON'T BE: Really, it's a question of whether or not he wants the post. Christie has denied interest in the role, perhaps more than any other potential VP pick, and even mentioning his lack of interest in a recent video with Cory Booker. He also hasn't been making the best impression, showing up late to events with Romney.
Still, Christie has recently started to open up to the idea of the position. But that comes amid new scrutiny amid a New York Times investigation of a Newark halfway house run by a company with deep ties to Christie. The investigation found that there is little state oversight of the company, and that 1,300 inmates have escaped since Christie took office.
WHY HE'LL BE VP: As we pointed out after his keynote speech at the New York Republican state dinner in April, Jindal has been sounding awfully vice presidential. He's young, charismatic and a diverse candidate with an Indian-American background. And he has the backing of prominent conservatives like Grover Norquist for his impeccable tax record.
Jindal also signed one of the most significant state education reforms in recent memory this year, and has been the Romney campaign's go-to surrogate on education reform.
WHY HE WON'T BE: Jindal is most known on a national stage for his spectacularly awful Republican response speech to the State of the Union in 2009. He also hasn't won over everyone with his education reform, and he holds the dubious distinction of being governor of the state with the country's highest prison population. There's also questions of whether he can bring in moderates and Independent voters to the ticket -- one political scientist described him to Business Insider as another potentially Sarah Palin-esque pick.
WHY HE'LL BE VP: Since 2010, Ryan has been neck-and-neck with Rubio as the darling of the Republican Party. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan has been the major voice slamming President Obama on the federal debt, and his voice will only get louder as the 'fiscal cliff' approaches. Last month's Wisconsin recall election also helped boost Ryan's VP prospects by putting Wisconsin in play as a possible swing state.
WHY HE WON'T BE: Running on Ryan's budget is a bg enormous risk, with the potential for political suicide. The budget offers little specifics and drastically reforms Medicare. Back in 2011, when Ryan first proposed a version of his budget, Democrats used it to score a surprising victory in an upstate New York special election.
WHY HE'LL BE VP: Thune became something of a conservative hero after he defeated Senate Democratic Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and a recent U.S. News poll found that he was among the top three candidates that top Republican strategists preferred. The Fiscal Times surmises that he passes the 'could-he-be-President?' test.
Newt Gingrich also recently told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that Thune was 'extraordinarily attractive'-- as a vice presidential candidate, that is.
WHY HE WON'T BE: He's a senator from a largely conservative, non-swing state with nothing especially significant to offer to the ticket -- McCain reportedly didn't choose Thune because he didn't have any 'game-changing' qualities. Thune voted for TARP and he did a brief stint as a lobbyist, both of which scream 'Washington insider.'
WHY HE'LL BE VP: McDonnell is another candidate with swing state cred, this time in a particularly crucial battleground for Romney. He's currently on a trade mission in Europe that could boost his economic and foreign policy cred on a national scale. The DCist also points out that McDonnell's association with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli could boost Tea Party enthusiasm for the GOP ticket.
WHY HE WON'T BE: This one is pretty simple, actually. Outside of his home state, McDonnell is best known for the controversy over Virginia's invasive ultrasound bill, which caught him flak from both the left and the right. Embarrassingly, he admitted that he didn't know the invasive procedure mandated before an abortion was required to begin with. Virginia eventually compromised, but it's doubtful that Romney really wants to take this risk, especially with recent polls showing that the former Massachusetts governor has been making inroads with women.
WHY SHE'LL BE VP: Republican insiders have pegged McMorris Rodgers as a female candidate who is the anti-Palin and the anti-Bachmann, striking the right tone on issues without being too polarising. She also has the kind of blue-collar backstory that Mitt Romney's campaign would love to push: She was the first member of her family to attend college, and entered Washington state's House of Representatives by the age of 24. She has given birth--twice--while serving in Congress, the only woman ever to do so.
WHY SHE WON'T BE: There is one glaring similarity between McMorris Rodgers today and Palin 2008: Both are untested on the national stage and have spent their careers hidden in the Pacific Northwest. There is also speculation that McMorris Rodgers might be pushing herself for the job; the Washington Post reported last month that an aide had emailed reporters to 'keep my boss' in mind.
WHY HE'LL BE VP: Paul fuelled speculation recently when he endorsed Romney and subsequently told CNN that it would be an 'honour' to run alongside him. He's a Tea Party favourite, and may also be able to convince some more moderate Paulites to support Mitt Romney. It would also work for Romney because it might convince Ron Paul to disavow any disruptions at the Republican convention in August.
WHY HE WON'T BE: As a former doctor elected to the Senate in 2010, Rand Paul doesn't have a lot of the experience factor on his side. Plus there's the backlash that Paulites gave the younger Paul after his endorsement of Romney, which indicates that most of them may not be of any use to Romney after all.
WHY SHE'LL BE VP: Everyone loves her. For starters, a poll of Republicans in April tabbed her as their preferred vice presidential pick. Among Republicans who didn't identify with the Tea Party, she won by an even wider margin, grabbing 36 per cent.
She's also a likable candidate, with a favorability rating at 71 per cent. She has spoken out against harsh immigration laws, which could help with Latino voters, and she's been travelling around promoting education reform with former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.
Most importantly, perhaps, she adds foreign policy experience to the ticket.
WHY SHE WON'T BE: The Bush thing. George W. Bush has been nothing less than a curse word for the Romney campaign at this point, and they might not want to open up their ticket to someone who had such a high-profile tie to his administration.
WHY SHE'LL BE VP: Martinez is the candidate that can best connect with Latino voters because of her own personal story. She is a converted Democrat, someone who can share her own personal story of why she switched with other Hispanic voters that the GOP feels are conservative but don't know it yet. People like her--her approval rating in New Mexico stands at 54 per cent.
WHY SHE WON'T BE: It's a bit of a stretch to say that she'll be a huge factor in New Mexico, which is pretty solidly in Obama's hands at this point. She only cuts the Obama/Biden lead to 11 points when she is on the ticket.
Also, when she says 'no,' she actually has a compelling reason that is understandable and believable: Her developmentally disabled sister. 'The family has to be a consideration, and for me to take (my sister) to Washington would be to separate her from … the family that's down there, and that would be devastating,' Martinez told the Albuquerque Journal. 'I just couldn't do it.'
WHY SHE'LL BE VP: She's already looking forward to debating Joe Biden, and she seems to be one of the few who is embracing the process rather than shying away from the speculation. She has been a devoted Romney surrogate, endorsing him before the New Hampshire primary in January. She appeals to conservatives with her fights against gun bans and abortion. Plus, Romney would love New Hampshire's four electoral votes, and has a better chance with her on the ticket.
WHY SHE WON'T BE: Sorry to keep coming back to Sarah Palin, but the similarities are just there. Ayotte is a GOP woman in the Palin mode. Palin has even called her a 'Mama Grizzly.' She also doesn't provide the ticket with any geographic balance--hello, liberal Northeast voters!--and she doesn't help Romney cut into Obama's New Hampshire lead too much anyway--it goes from 12 points to 10.
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