As Mitt Romney’s team considers potential candidates for the vice presidential position on the Republican ticket, it would behoove the erstwhile inspiration for this striking vintage logo to hesitate no longer. It is in Mr. Romney’s best interests to pick his running mate as soon as he returns from his trip abroad to capitalize on one of his singular triumphs: his leadership of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
After being put on the defensive by President Obama’s stepped-up assault on his business philosophy, writ large in the national debate over job prospects, Mr. Romney can step back slightly (distancing himself from the negativity) and yield to the zeitgeist, allowing the national focus to shift onto the impending start of the London Olympics. From this vantage, Mr. Romney can use the setting to re-establish his credentials as a leader who saved face for the U.S. on the world stage when he salvaged what could have been an Olympic debacle. This constitutes a feather in Romney’s cap that contrasts vividly with President Obama’s efforts to throw his weight behind Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Operating from the strength of that historical moment and the wave of patriotic fervor that accompanies the Summer Games, Romney can frame his announcement as bringing on board a running mate who is similarly committed to facing adversity and delivering better outcomes for the nation.
Beyond idle speculation, the identity of Romney’s selection is unknown, but by coordinating his timing he will be able to maximize the impact of the decision. Making the decision earlier in the game will allow the Romney campaign the full benefit of the time preceding the Republican National Convention in Tampa to add to its war chest. Mobilizing constituencies with an inspired vice presidential pick is always beneficial, but the effect would be multiplied many times over by both the lead time and Mr. Romney’s formidable Super PAC infrastructure.
In addition, drawing out the decision stands the risk of turning off supporters with needless gamesmanship or a seeming unwillingness to pick a philosophy (and compatible running mate) and stick with it. The latter is a particular liability given Romney’s record of flexible positions on key campaign issues. And, as far as belaboring decisions goes, who could forget this.
Joking aside, Mitt Romney can and should use his record with the Olympics to refocus his campaign and announce a Republican ticket that comes flying out of the gate.