Since Mitt Romney has officially clinched the nomination (even though some of the most ardent of Ron Paul’s supporters deny this), the time has come for the great sport of Vice Presidential speculation. Luckily for me, I get paid to do this in my internship, but my work is far from done at this point (I am researching the various political positions of the candidates, especially the social ones). Anyway, this is how I see it at this point.
The Top Tier
Bobby Jindal- If I was Mitt Romney, I would ask Jindal to join the ticket. Bobby Jindal, I do believe, is the future of the Republican Party. He has everything one could ask for in a Vice Presidential candidate: executive experience, legislative experience, youth, diversity, name recognition, intelligence, and likeability. How can one compete with a second term governor who is a Rhodes Scholar, Brown and Oxford graduate and former congressman who held senior-level positions in state government by the time he was 25? Jindal complements all of Romney’s weaknesses perfectly. Romney is a northeastern, white moderate with a mixed track record on conservative issues, while Jindal is a wildly popular southern conservative who has a consistent track record on conservatism. And yes, Jindal’s Indian roots bring an element of diversity to a party that is stereotyped for being the party of old, white males. If nothing else, Jindal will be able to energize the base like Sarah Palin did, but Romney will not have to worry about Jindal making the mistakes that she made. Nothing would make me happier than to see Mitt Romney pick Bobby Jindal.
Rob Portman- For anyone BUT Mitt Romney, I would strongly suggest the Ohio Senator as a perfect fit for the Veep Slot. Portman has a stellar resume as a Senator, Congressman, US Trade Representative, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget (a cabinet level position). However, Romney really needs someone to EXCITE the party, and Portman really does not do that. Despite the fact that he is not a dull individual, he has been successfully portrayed as a “stiff” and just a younger version of Romney (in other words, the “bland leading the bland” as Colbert put it). If Romney picks Portman, though, he will not have made a bad choice. Portman has a stellar conservative resume that is also respected by Democrats (just read the comments made by Max Baucus on Rob Portman during his first Senate confirmation). Portman is more of an economic Republican (even though he has a perfect record as far as life issues are concerned), which is just what Mitt Romney is. Rob Portman would be the ideal match for any southern conservative, but I do not feel that he adds too much to Romney campaign besides being a safe pick in a swing state.
Luis Fortuño- This guy is a dark horse candidate, but a good fit for Mitt Romney. The Governor of Puerto Rico has many of the positive aspects of Marco Rubio, but with executive experience, age, and a greater sense of readiness. Fortuño is a rare success story for a Republican in Puerto Rico, having served as Governor of the island, and also in Congress as Puerto Rico’s Representatives in the House. If David Axelrod is cynical about Marco Rubio’s ability to win over the Hispanic vote for the GOP, then he should consider Fortuño. If Romney wants to add a Latino to his ticket, he may want to consider this man.
Marco Rubio- Preface: I love Marco Rubio. Nothing would please me more than to have the GOP rule the White House for the next 24 years with Romney, then Jindal, and then Rubio. That said, I do not believe the time is right for Rubio. He is a first-term Senator who has a lot to bring to the table to the GOP, especially on immigration, but I would rather let him work in the Senate and save him for the future. Especially if Romney wins, Rubio will not have to worry about running nationally for another 8 years, and that is great for him. Time is on his side, so it would be better for him to not rush into it. If Romney chooses him, he will be able to mobilize the Tea Party more than anyone else, but I think any exciting conservative can do that. The biggest weakness with Rubio is inexperience, so I would just let him be if I was Mitt Romney.
Paul Ryan- Preface: I love Paul Ryan as well. However, I think Ryan does not add too much to Romney’s campaign that is not already there. He is an economically-minded Republican who does not love the spotlight as much, preferring to stay in the background writing his budget and trying to get Republicans on board. Seriously, I do not think he would want to risk his position as Chairman of the House Budget Committee for a run at the Vice Presidency, the “most insignificant office ever created by mankind.” His conservative credentials are solid, but I doubt Romney picks him.
Rand Paul- Senator Paul surprised me tonight by endorsing Mitt Romney; all but ending his father’s presidential run for good. Senator Paul may bring some of his father’s zealous supporters on board, and he is acceptable to just about every faction of the GOP. The social conservatives/neocons like him better than Ron, the libertarians love him (at least those who have not branded him a traitor), and even the Beltway Republicans do not mind him. That said, I feel like Rand would do better in the Senate at this point, building up his credentials like Marco Rubio. I cannot, however, find any reason to discourage Romney from choosing him, especially in light of this recent endorsement.
Rick Santorum- Much as I like Santorum, I feel like he burned too many bridges with Romney during the campaign to really work well. The other problem, really, is simply the negative name recognition that Santorum has been unfairly dealt. Also, Santorum may be able to deliver the conservative base to Romney, but his name is poison with most of the libertarian-leaning Republicans, who are critical to defeating Obama. I think Romney can appease all parties by promising a cabinet position to Santorum, but I do not see him picking Santorum as his running mate, unless he REALLY believes that Santorum can help him win Pennsylvania (which is by no means guaranteed).
Chris Christie- this man should run for President in 2016 or 2020. He must never, however, run for the Vice Presidency. He is doing too much good in New Jersey to relieve him of that position (I mean, really, he is Obi-wan Kenobi and New Jersey is Princess Leia). Especially as Mitt Romney’s running mate, Chris Christie would overshadow the top of the ticket and probably say some things that the ever-cautious Romney would decry. And even if Romney won, Christie would be a terrible Vice President! He would be a modern John Adams, the kind of man who should never be put in an irrelevant position and expected to remain content. The Vice Presidency really is not a fit for a man like Christie, so I would not pick him if I was Mitt Romney.
Pat Toomey- I think my Junior Senator is great, but he would not be a great fit for the Romney ticket for the same reasons as Portman and Ryan. Someone who is not great in front of a camera or an audience, who prefers writing budgets and legislating, should not try to run on a national ticket. Like Santorum, there is no guarantee that he could deliver Pennsylvania in a presidential election year, and he’s probably most effective where he is right now.
Conclusion: Bobby Jindal is the best fit for Romney at this point, and we shall see what happens!