Photo: Wikimedia Commons
As Mitt Romney draws closer to a decision about his 2012 running mate, speculation about who the Republican presidential candidate will select to be his No. 2 has reached a fever pitch. Romney is expected to make the announcement sometime after he returns from overseas next week. In the meantime, his campaign has launched a major surrogate blitz, dispatching seven of the most buzzed-about VP contenders to rally Romney supporters in swing states.
But this afternoon, the campaign added a surprise name to the list: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
According to a campaign release, Bondi will travel miles away from her home state on Saturday to stump for Romney at three stops in New Hampshire, including a Women for Mitt Kickoff Breakfast in Concord, and campaign office openings in Bedford and Stratham.
Incidentally, the events will put Bondi in close proximity to both the Romney campaign headquarters in Boston and the Romney family’s vacation compound on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnepesaukee.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that Bondi is not high on Romney’s VP list. The specter of Sarah Palin still looms large over the Republican Party, and Bondi, with her unknown background and all-American sorority-girl looks would undoubtedly spur Palin comparisons and a 2008-style media feeding frenzy.
But there are actually some compelling reasons why Romney might be considering Bondi for his No. 2 spot. And given that everything anyone writes about the VP process so far is only speculation, we might as well have some fun.
Here’s why Bondi might be on Romney’s shortlist:
- She’s a woman. And she’s young. While the Romney campaign is said to be looking for experience and gravitas, there are obvious demographic advantages to picking someone who can appeal to women and young people.
- She’s from Florida. Bondi could give Romney a much-needed advantage in the crucial swing state.
- She tried to take down Obamacare — and almost won. Bondi was the lead attorney general in the lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act. With her as VP, Romney would have one less problem to deal with.
- She’s really pretty.
She also seems to have a good rapport with the candidate. Here’s a picture of Bondi and Mitt hanging out with Lenny Kravitz at the Daytona 500 that she posted on her Facebook page:
Photo: Pam Bondi / Facebook
But Bondi also comes with some political baggage, not least of which is her complicated marital past. Bondi is twice married and divorced, and earlier this year postponed her wedding to her current fiancé under strange circumstances. According to the Miami Herald, Bondi had planned a destination wedding in the Cayman Islands this May, but unexpectedly cancelled the nuptials at the very last minute. The very last minute. Here’s an excerpt from the Herald story:
In November, she told the Tampa Bay Times that she was hoping for a spring affair. Political insiders eventually caught wind that a destination wedding was planned for Memorial Day weekend, but details were limited and the guest list was exclusive….
…Even some of the guests invited to join the couple in Cayman didn’t know about the change in plans as they embarked for the Caribbean. Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco said he isn’t sure when he learned there wouldn’t be a wedding, perhaps on the plane ride there.
“Some knew, and some didn’t,” said Greco, who traveled with his wife, Linda McClintock. “But everybody knew before Saturday.”
There was still partying and even kind words for the bride and groom, but no formalities, Greco said. “They had a prayer and a couple of Bible scriptures and said that is what they had decided to do.”
Here’s a picture of Bondi serving her guests cocktails on the plane to Cayman, courtesy of Florida state Senator Paula Dockery’s Facebook page:
Photo: Paula Dockery Facebook via AP
Bondi later told the Herald that she and her fiancé are still “happily in love.” But obviously the last thing the Romney campaign needs is another Cayman Islands problem.
Even if Bondi doesn’t make Romney’s VP cut, it’s safe to assume we’ll be seeing a lot more of her on the campaign trail. The Florida Attorney General has been ramping up her national profile in recent weeks, joining a Republican National Committee effort to recruit more women to the party and defending Florida’s controversial voter purge against Democratic criticism.
Plus, if the presidential race once again comes down to Florida, Romney will definitely want this woman in his corner.
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