By Tom Cushing
The VeepStakes: First, do no harm (who's your choice?)Uploaded: Jul 18, 2012
The presumptive GOP Presidential nominee, Mr. Romney, is in the process of vetting potential presumptive running mates, using the title mantra as the campaign's guide star. In so doing, he hopes to avoid the mistakes of the two most recent unsuccessful candidacies: a high-maintenance distraction (McCain) or a choice whose own presidential ambitions would outweigh the current campaign in terms of hew-ability to the nominee's line (Kerry – the rich array of other flaws that made John Edwards a poor choice was not yet as evident in 2004).
The campaign has requested voluminous background data, an intrusive 80-Q questionnaire, including a 'fess up on any personally embarrassing private behaviors; officials are poring over miles of footage on how they sound in various public contexts, including under pressure. Tax returns are undoubtedly included, although the Romneys have not revealed the fascinating detail of how many years would be adequate to their purpose. Also no word whether any record of unconventional pet proclivities is included in the analysis. The announcement is expected later this month or in early August, after an overseas trip (to visit Mitt's money? His jobs? Her horse? Inquiring minds are curious!).
Anyway, the list is narrowing, and here's your chance to weigh-in on your favorite(s), below, in no particular order, or write 'em in:
Condoleeza Rice: the former Secretary of State brings international expertise to an otherwise very domestic ticket. A well-established hawk, she's personally clean, and status factors may be a small help, but when I've heard her speak she comes off as school-marmish and prickly, and she's pro-choice.
Susana Martinez: first term Governor of New Mexico would help substantially with growing Hispanic bloc (if it is, indeed, a bloc), but is largely unknown, not international and perhaps saddled with the baggage of that other recent first-term governor.
Another GOP woman not named Michele Bachmann? Carly and Meg and Nevada's Sharron Angle have proven unelectability – any ideas?
Scott Walker: first term Governor of Wisconsin would be popular with the base as the guy who took down the public employee unions, and survived their recall wrath. Youth and inexperience may cut either way, and he is a polarizing figure – he might energize some Big Labor interests the GOP would prefer to have stay home.
John Thune: telegenic SD Senator is a proven Dem-slayer (the once influential Tom Daschle) and was spoken-of as a potential contender for the top spot. A Washington insider, he might make it hard to run against the Beltway status quo, and he's not additive (safely red state, devoid of population, just another guy from central casting).
Jon Huntsman: former Utah governor is a guy I could have voted-for, which is probably enough to doom his policy appeal to the more carnivorous elements of the base.
Rick Santorum: the fiercely evangelical Christian soldier is available, but clashed strongly with the nominee, is a polarizing figure when exposed to unfriendly media about the primary process, his zeal leads him to forget the mission and his own ambitions are unbridled (see above mantra). He would drive the Great Middle to Obama.
Newt Gingrich: former Speaker appears to have only ever had one supporter. It helps, these days, for that one person to be Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate. He would also be impossible to script, or control.
Ron Paul, Donald Trump: a thousand times 'no' for the reasons above and 998 others.
Chris Christie: NJ Governor is combative, conservative, fast on his feet and shares a weight problem with the majority of the electorate (me, too). His would be an entertaining choice, and NJ might be important to the outcome if he could deliver the electoral votes. My ample gut tells me that he's so much his own man that he won't want to learn second fiddle, nor be willing to decay in-place if the GOP wins.
Paul Ryan: the WI Congressman and budget warrior – the tea-addled base would do back-flips, but I think his identity as the leading House Republican (sorry, Weepy) doesn't help with the Great Middle; he may decide he's more influential where he is. And am I the only one who fears that he sleeps in a coffin?
Brian Sandoval: the current first-term Governor of NV from Reno is a former federal judge, and popular in-state. Delivering Nevada could be important. Although he is largely unknown, he has Hispanic roots, is Catholic by religion and has the whitest smile this side of Colgate country.
Rob Portman: the Ohio Congressman has been a dark horse, but his name keeps getting mentioned and Ohio is crucial to the campaign. Is anybody familiar with him?
Marco Rubio: the Florida Senator is from another critical swing state, is an Hispanic, a card-carrying conservative and held his own with Jon Stewart elucidating his views (no mean feat). He has been auditioned on several occasions and might see this as an opportunity. His grandfather was an illegal immigrant, which some might think would weaken the credibility of his staunch immigration stands. He might also out-shine the top dog. My guess? He's the one, but I write that without much confidence.
So: what do You think, especially you-all who might vote for the GOP ticket?