With the GOP primary all but over, the focus has shifted from how will the Republican primary end to who will be the eventual VP pick. Usually, when picking VPs there are two schools of thought, does the person help you govern (a Dick Chaney or Joseph Biden pick) or does the person help you win the election (Sarah Palin). Given his background and how close this election is looking, most people are expecting Romney to make an “election” pick rather than a governing one. After all, it doesn’t matter how good at governing someone is if they don’t win.
However, unlike most lists, this one is about who is the most likely (not best), which why Sen. Rubio (R–FL), for example, is not on the list. This is certainly not because he wouldn’t be a good VP candidate, so before everyone jumps up and down, let me explain.
Two points: first if you’re Rubio, why would you want to tie your extremely bright future to a candidate you could have beaten in the primary? The last VP candidate on a losing ticket that went on to become president was FDR, and that was part of the 1920 ticket with James Cox. (I must confess, I had to look this obscure stat up.) Not exactly the kind of statistic you want to hang your hat on.
Second, if you’re Romney, why do you want someone who is just going to take all the headlines and might not do all the dirty work needed from a VP candidate in the general? You’d know that Rubio is going to be thinking about running someday so that will constantly be playing into all the decisions. (Like Palin) It would be like putting two candidates on the same ticket and just hoping they would work things out. Besides, there would also be the embarrassing fear that Rubio would come off as the better candidate and syphon off an electoral vote like Bentsen did to Dukakis. Much of the same case can be made for Paul Ryan (also, who picks Representatives?). So who does make it onto the list:
1. Bobby Jindal – Since the State of the Union rebuttal, Jindal has been building a very good VP resume. (Even if he did endorse Rick Perry first) He has the sold conservative credentials that Romney would be looking for. Also, he’s proven that he isn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty and is more than able to do the traditional offensive role of a VP nominee. Moreover, he would help close the “enthusiasm gap” that Romney is currently stuck in. Lastly and most importantly, but I don’t know how to say this in a politically correct way… he isn’t white. Which, if you’re the GOP candidate against President Obama, is kind of a big deal.
2. Bob McDonnell – Romney isn’t winning the election without winning Virginia, and McDonnell is a nice compromise between new and old Republican. He can help bridge the gap with the base without going too far to the right, has some national appeal, and can point to a growing VA economy during his time in office. The recent fight in VA over abortion will be an issue, but I don’t know if it is enough to disqualify him.
3. Rob Portman – The “traditional thinking” pick, which is also why I think he is likely. Also, he helps out in a desperately needed way in Ohio, which also needs to be won for Romney to have a shot. I like Portman, but he’s as inside Washington as VP picks gets and in a year with Congressional approval in the toilet that’s not a good thing.
Final note: if his last name wasn’t Bush, I would have Jeb as my #1 pick by a landslide.