The VP Matrix

Excitement continues to brew about who Mitt Romney might choose as his Vice President.  Today a story hit the news circulation that Marco Rubio is not being vetted, but Tim Pawlenty is being given serious consideration.  Romney found himself on the defensive this evening.  But before you get too excited about a Marco Rubio candidacy, or too upset about it, you may want to take a breather and consider who Romney is and what kind of campaign he is running.  Flash and splash are not the orders of the day.

Mitt Romney’s campaign need do no more than promise a stronger economy and let Obama continue to create a weaker economy.  In fact, Mitt Romney’s tour through small town USA promoting the private sector and values of competition is exactly where he needs to be.  Obama is spouting a controversy mixed with a gaffe every day.  Why jump in front of a train wreck?  Romney’s VP choice will be about as blockbuster as a sandwich from a WaWa vending machine.

Get out your VP scorecards and consider the following:

Mitt’s VP choice will not be a fresh face.

Mitt Romney is not looking for a candidate with little national experience.  Nor is he looking for a candidate who everyone on the far right loves.  Romney doesn’t need a shot of adrenaline or steroids.  The last thing he needs is someone who is going to distract from the national disaster of the Obama Presidency.  Romney does not need a divisive TEA party figure.  He certainly doesn’t need someone who could be perceived as inexperienced.  If Romney picks a veteran, the media will be cautious about trying to embarrass them as a rookie.  But media types smell blood in the water when there is fresh meat.  Even a studied, prepared candidate might not be able to field a trick question like “do you support the Bush doctrine”.  However, a veteran is less likely to be asked that question.

Obama’s inexperience took a back seat in the media when McCain brought in Palin

This is bad for Allen West, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Susana Martinez, Scott Walker, and Paul Ryan.  Could be good for Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, Jeb Bush, Condi Rice, or Rudy Guiliani.

Mitt’s VP choice will not be old and tired.

The death knell for a Republican candidacy, fair or not, is being old and grey.  Nothing plays into stereotypes of Republicans more than an old, grey haired, slow talking wrinkly man.  While Romney doesn’t need a shot in the arm, he also doesn’t need something contributing to the stereotypes more than he does already.  Right now Romney is Reaganesque in his looks and style.  But an older veteran running mate would turn his campaign into the old rich white people’s ticket.  Again, it may not be fair or right, but don’t expect a VP over 55 years old.

Don’t expect Newt Gingrich, Fred Thompson, or Rob Portman.  Could be good for Bobby McDonnell, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie

Jack Kemp and Bob Dole combined had nearly two centuries of experience

Mitt’s VP choice may not be female or minority.

There is this idea that the only way to defeat Barack Obama is by running a female or minority VP candidate.  Aside from that strategy failing miserably with Sarah Palin, the problem is that Republicans pay far less attention to race and gender than Democrats do, and Democrats virulently hate conservative women and minorities.  We have seen in recent years just how much visible hatred has been directed toward Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, Allen West, Nikki Haley, Michelle Bachmann, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, etc.  There is a clear desire on the left for female and minority Republicans to fail.  In Mitt Romney’s case, he is not looking for diversity for diversity’s sake.  That’s not to say he won’t pick a female or minority candidate, but if he does it will be someone respected by both sides and unassailable.

This makes Allen West, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley, and Susana Martinez less likely.  However, it doesn’t necessarily knock Condoleeza Rice out of the running, although she will carry the stigma on the left of being chosen for diversity’s sake.  Again, might not be fair, but since when were politics fair.

Mitt’s VP choice will not be controversial.

It’s bad when your VP candidate has almost as many quotable gaffes as Joe Biden

Mitt Romney is not looking to cause trouble for himself.  He doesn’t need a loudmouth or a controversial character.  Don’t expect any candidate who is going to make serious waves.  As I said before, Romney doesn’t need a distraction from the freak show of the Obama economy.  Expect a well respected candidate who is as smooth politically as Romney himself.

You can scratch the Donald, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Allen West, and Newt Gingrich off your list.  This is a strike against Jeb Bush and Condoleeza Rice as well.  But it favors Mitch Daniels, possibly Bob McDonell, and John Thune.

Expect a strategic pick.

Romney’s not going to choose a popular governor from a red state.  But he might choose a popular candidate from a purple or blue state.  And there are a few to choose from.  Rubio would lock of Florida.  Bob McDonnell could secure the nearly must win blue state of Virginia.  Tim Pawlenty could inspire votes from the teetering Great Lakes states.  Rick Snyder of Michigan could really bring in some blue states, but he is likely disqualified for being old and a fresh face at the same time.  Brian Sandoval might help swing Nevada to Romney while also providing the opportunity to highlight Harry Reid’s role in the destruction of our economy.

This set of criteria will hardly provide a definite pick.  In fact, some points are contradictory.  But it should provide some ideas for people who are looking at the potential VP picks.  I could hardly make a prediction even based on this criteria.  But I do believe it comprises the factors that Romney will be looking at when making his pick.

7 Responses

  1. Luis Fortuno fits the bill.

  2. Actually, I disagree. Fortuno brings no strategy to the table. As the governor of Puerto Rico he don’t bring in a delegate bearing blue state. He is a minority, but is not well known or well respected in national politics. Not to say he is disrespected, but most Americans don’t even know who he is. I think a Fortuno pick would be viewed as an attempt to artificially woo Latinos. Romney will do better with a message to Latinos that he can fix the economy and make specifically *THEIR* lives better.

  3. First, I believe this quite a rational and realistic assessment that is based on the both the political reality of this election and of the thorough and methodic thinking that Romney traditionally makes a part of his decision making process. That said, while I have touted Fortuno on WH12 ( ) as a possible surprise VP choice for over two years now, Fortuno does not fit one of the prerequisites of all Romney decisions. Fortuno is not the “safe” choice.

    Selecting Fortuno would be a interjecting a new dynamic into the political equation. It is a dynamic that involves having to explain to the American electorate, why and how Fortuno meets the legal requirements to be eligible for Vice President and ultimately, President. A majority of Americans, as well as a majority of Puerto Ricans do not see Fortuno as the natural born citizedn of the United States that he is.

    This means that there will be a significant number of naive Americans who will be very apprehensive about having the leader of what many still view as foreign nation be the leader of the United States. That thinking is incorrect but the reality is that such thinking exists. As such, selecting Fortuno as Vice President would make his nominmation a source of controversey and that is not something Romney needs ior really wants.

    While I think Fortuno is a great leader and I support him, from a political and electoral perspective, I do not know that he is the best choice Romnmey can make.

    At the moment, my personal choice for Mitt is Mitch Daniels or Jeb Bush. Of course I love the prospects of Rubio, I do not belioeve he will be the nominee and I firmly believes that he does not want to be Vice president. And while I have my preference for VP, I believe that with Romney’s choice will be from among tyhe following names; Bobby Jindal, John Thune, Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty and oddly but quite possibly, Washington State Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

    Rodgers may not seem like a “safe choice” but if one vets her extensively, they will find that she is a solid choice for reasons of both electoral politics, and qualifications. McMorris Rodgers is the closest thing to a “surprise” choice that I believe we could see from Romney.

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