It is time again for the wild speculation to begin. “Veepstakes” is one of those fabulously handy Portmanteaus, you know, where you take two words and mush them together to create an even more useful word. Think “Brandgelina” for the power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, or “Junuary Weather” when we get the weather of January in June. Anyway, the “Veepstakes” refers to when the presidential nominee picks a running mate, combining “Veep” (for Vice-President) with “Sweepstakes”. In many ways, it is like getting a winning lotto ticket. The central criteria for becoming a vice-presidential nominee is that you offer something the presidential candidate doesn’t AND you are ready to support the nominee. Simple as that.
Since Mitt Romney has cleared his laughably easy opposition (no offense Rick Santorum, definitely offense intended for Rick Perry), now is usually the time when the Vice-Presidential nominee is announced. It gives the candidate enough time to take their choice out on the road for some test politicking, lock down some big name interviews to introduce their running mate, and prepare for the Convention in August/September. So who will be Mitt Romney’s magic companion? Who will win the Veepstakes? Follow me below the fold to see some of the choices and my perspective on them.
The Safe Bet: Senator Rob Portman. Fmr Congressman, then director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Bush, then most recently Ohio’s junior senator. Picking Portman would be adding an exclamation point on to the end of his electoral resume. Oh, you liked the fact that I am a boring white dude with a background in finance and business, here is another boring white dude with a background in finance and business. Look! We have matching ties! Downside is that this would leave the ticket with precisely ZERO foreign policy experience, and very little enthusiasm or energy from the conservative base.
A Better Shot: Senator Marco Rubio. Newly elected Senator from Florida, Rubio is a trifecta of electoral pluses. He is relatively young and telegenic, he is Cuban at a time when the Latino vote is growing and he represents a swing state. Downside, he keeps repeatedly and emphatically saying “NO” when asked and, more importantly, polling shows that he isn’t that popular with either Latinos or Floridians. Which is probably why the campaign team isn’t vetting him.
The Suprise-Pick: Governor Nikki Haley. I must admit, this is what I would do if I were sitting in Mitt’s $600 shoes. Gov. Nikki Haley is a generally well-liked Governor of South Carolina (possible swing state). She is Indian-American and a woman, a nice balance to Romney’s old-white-dude-ness. She has been relatively controversy free (aside from weird accusations of adultery with a conservative blogger) and would bring some diversity to the ticket.
The Sarah Palin: Gov. Chris Christie. You want someone who will fire up the conservative base, provide a never-ending stream of cringe-inducing headlines and quotes and totally steal the thunder from the top of the ticket? Pick the loud-mouthed, often hilarious (seriously), New Jersey governor to mix it up. Gov. Christie would be a big boon to fundraising (he’s got grassroots enthusiasm and big rollers on his side) but is that worth the potential damage he could do by shooting his mouth off. I’m thinking, based on the McCain campaign, straight-laced and careful Mitt Romney is going to pass on this one.
Outside the Box: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson. I have to admit, I’m a bit of a Sen. Hutchinson fan. I’ve written about her before as an “anti-Palin”. The sort of strong, capable, conservative leaders who brings brains and expertise to the table. She is retiring as Senator from Texas this year after a failed bid for the Governor’s mansion in 2010, where she lost to this guy. She would be a good foil for VP Joe Biden, as they both are long-time senators with lots of foreign policy experience. She would balance out many of Mitt Romney’s policy gaps, while adding a woman to the ticket.
Incredibly Outside the Box: Bruce Banner. Look, it is clear that the Republican base is pretty rage-filled these days. Whether it is drumming Justice Roberts out for agreeing with a policy that the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation wrote, or booing a gay soldier for being gay, or cheering when a sick person dies, the Republican base is feeling like it is time to “SMASH!”. Why don’t they just strap themselves to a Gamma rays testing site and go for it?
Other choices: Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Paul Ryan, Clone of Ronald Reagan, or maybe Sen. Jon Kyl.
So who will win? We should probably know within the next month or so, but go ahead and put your guesses in the comments below. I will absolutely buy the winner a beer.