With all the talk of last week’s healthcare ruling, immigration law decisions, and contempt proceedings being thrown around, the casual observer could almost forget that we’re in the middle of a heated battle for the presidency of the United States right now. With a new study showing that neither candidate is budging in the polls, many pundits are opening wondering what Mitt Romney or Barack Obama will be able to do to break the status quo and get some momentum going.
One trick to prime the pump for a nice poll jump is to make a major policy or milestone announcement and really shake up the dialogue surrounding a campaign. Perhaps no announcement is more seismic than a running mate selection – just refer back to Senator McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin in 2008 if you have any doubts. And while Obama has already played his hand by confirming that Joe Biden would be his number two months ago, Mitt Romney still has the “surprise veep” card up his sleeve.
But who should he pick? Another moderate, a Tea Party darling, a libertarian? Would a black woman or hispanic swing-state governor change the dynamic of the race? Take a look at who I believe to be “Mitt’s Top 6 VP Picks” to find out who’s got what it takes to turn the White House red:
6. Condoleeza Rice – If she hadn’t firmly rejected the notion that she’d accept the nomination, the former Secretary of State would make a great running mate. Unfortunately, it’s a little hard to backtrack on a statement that says you have “absolutely no interest” in being a vice president. Condi’s credentials as a seasoned foreign-policy expert would have made her an attractive running mate – but I dream…
5. Chris Christie – Let’s face it, if Mitt Romney were to offer Chris Christie the second-banana gig, he’d probably want to eat a third and fourth too. I mean, it’s kind of hard to imagine him running for anything, let alone political office. Fat jokes aside (all in good fun, governor!), Christie would be a fantastic pick. As a union-slayer, budget-balancer, and straight-talker, few people have more clout than Chris. He’d have my vote in a heartbeat, but for some reason I just can’t see him getting picked for the no. 2 spot on the ticket.
4. Brian Sandoval – This guy’s the true dark horse. He’s a young Latino governor in New Mexico, a solid conservative who could give Romney a swing state and another shot at the Hispanic voting block. I’m sure the campaign is looking very hard at him as an option, but not enough people know about him to make him a good candidate. Then again, that’s what we said about Sarah Palin.
3. Marco Rubio – I had to overcome a lot of emotion putting this guy in third. As a son of Cuban immigrants and a rising star in the GOP, Rubio would be a great choice. In fact, he’s the expected choice, which may put him at a disadvantage. Nevertheless, if Rubio can help put Florida firmly in the Romney column and erode Obama’s support among Hispanics, he’d more than make up for his less-than-enthusiastic views on the office of Vice President. Plus, I have to think this guy would destroy Joe Biden in a debate…
2. Rob Portman – Ohio’s junior senator is an obvious choice. Portman has ample budget experience as director of the OMB under Bush, and it helps that he’s from Ohio – a state that’s voted for the winning candidate for the last 48 years. The senator’s definitely on the short-list of VP candidates, but I feel like his work in Washington could be a liability. I don’t know of anything particular that could be a problem, but if the opposition can take a play out of the “Beat Santorum” playbook they may be able to raise a ruckus.
But now it’s time for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – Mitt Romney’s best choice for a 2012 running mate is none other than…
1. Bob McDonnell – A Tea Party favorite, McDonnell hails from the swing state of Virginia. Both of these facts make him a solid choice for Mitt – especially the latter. Putting Virginia in play would really change up the race big-time, forcing Obama to rethink his Southern strategy. But Bob’s conservative credentials would also be a big score for a Romney campaign seeking to signal that it is what it said it was in the primaries. McDonnell’s reputation would lend some serious credence to that notion while giving the effort some down-to-earth charisma.
Surprised? You may be. Keep in mind that no one really know’s the Romney campaign’s electoral calculus for sure, and that pretty much every single one of these candidates would be preferable to someone who asks wheelchair-bound senators to take a bow or assumes people in Latin America actually speak Latin.
But then again, if those are qualities that you want in a vice president, you’re more than welcome to make a case for them in the comments below. Just remember not to take this too lightly – picking a VP is a “big F-ing deal!“