We’re all waiting for Mitt Romney to announce his VP running mate for the general election. There has been a lot of speculation as to who the top contenders are. Names like Condoleezza Rice, Bobby Jindal, Rob Portman, David Petraeus, and Tim Pawlenty all come to mind. I given my opinion on some of these, but have been pretty silent on others. Here is what I think/hope happens.
Mitt Romney is the ‘economy guy’. What he now needs is someone that can balance out his strengths with some of his weaknesses. For Republicans, that generally leaves the ‘religious guy’ and the ‘foreign policy guy’. Another wrinkle the election this time around is the extreme closeness of the House and Senate. While the House may be comfortably in the Republican camp, the Senate is still a toss-up. For that one reason alone, I don’t believe Romney will pick a current Senator (thus why Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan are not on my list). He could still pick a Representative.
So what is more important to Romney and Republicans? I think picking a ‘religious guy’ or a ‘foreign policy guy’ each has its own risks. Picking the ‘religious guy’ stands the chance of turning independents away because by a large margin they are less concerned about social issues than other groups and would much rather have government stay ‘out of the bedroom’. Picking the ‘foreign policy guy’ is risky though because it could bring back bad memories of the Bush years with wars on multiple fronts (not to mention the candidates in this camp come from Bush’s administration). This could eliminate some of the more moderate voters out there that are still trying to decide who to pick in November.
It is possible Romney could pick a mini version of himself (the ‘economy guy’). The problem with that is twofold. One, it is putting all of his eggs in one basket. That maybe a good gamble though, considering the economy is the most important issue by far this election. Two, most of the ‘economy guys’ available are much more polarizing than the other VP choices. People like Paul Ryan and Chris Christie are very well liked among conservatives, but they are viewed with vitriol among others. I don’t believe Romney should pick a polarizing figure.
If I were a betting man, I would bet Romney will pick the most boring and uncontroversial person out there to be his running mate. Romney needs boring because polarizing would be a disaster (like Sarah Palin was for John McCain). Until he announces, all we can do is wait and see.