GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been hinting and teasing as to who his VP nominee could be for weeks now. Most of the pundits are hedging their bets that Romney will go with a ‘safe pick’ in order to avoid a repeat of the drag that 2008 VP nominee Sarah Palin ended up having on the ticket.
2008 GOP nominee Senator John McCain shocked America by tapping Palin for VP, who was then the sitting governor of Alaska. Despite initially igniting conservative passions, her lack of experience in the limelight and gaffes during interviews began to mount. Many now believe that the game changing Palin ended up doing more harm than good.
Many conservatives are terrified about the prospect of another gaffe-prone, lightening rod VP nominee that could give President Obama and the media a chance to talk about anything other than the economy.
For this reason, most people assume that Romney will and should go with a competent, safe choice. Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan regularly top the list.
However, there are several potential dark horse candidates that Romney could pick should he decide to roll the dice.
Certain pundits have suggested people like NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (gag) because of his supposed appeal to independents. However, most Republicans, conservatives, Tea Partiers and libertarians would literally turn to pitch forks and torches if Romney were to tap Mr. Nanny State as his veep.
A dark horse candidate like New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez could be more appealing because of her gender and ethnic background. However, hopes of her broadening GOP appeal amongst Latinos could be overshadowed by the inevitable and unfair comparisons to Sarah Palin. Martinez, after all, has not even been a Governor for two full years.
If Romney wanted to go completely left field, he could pick former four-star general and current CIA Director David Petraeus. One of the most celebrated generals in modern history, he is considered a hero by many for turning around the Iraq war. He'd also bring oodles of military and foreign policy experience to the Romney campaign. While the selection of Petraeus might tick off a few doves, it could also provide reassurance to some people that might be wary of the hawkish Governor. Petraeus would be seen as a check, a top advisor for any military situation. There is nothing that the man hasn’t seen.
Perhaps the bigger question is: Should Romney bother to pick a dark horse candidate at all? Is it better to be safe that sorry?
The Romney campaign has to throw all fears out the window of their pick being ‘Palin’d’ by the media. That’s going to work no matter whom he picks. The all-out assault on Palin’s character proved disastrous to an already feeble and gutless McCain campaign. The media found something that worked, and will no doubt do it again in order to protect their boyfriend Barack. However, just because an epic beating will be coming no matter what does not mean that rolling the dice is not worth it this time around.
Romney can’t afford to screw this up. His VP choice, no matter who it is, should only project a few things: Competence, experience, and the readiness to be president on day one should the worst happen. If the individual happens to be from a valuable swing state as well, that’d be a nice bonus.
The first rule of picking a VP is the same as the first rule of medicine. Do no harm. Throughout his business and gurbernatorial career, Romney was known for picking “mini-Mitts,” people that were hard working, number crunching nerds. It's likely his VP choice will follow the same pattern.
The deck is stacked perfectly for Romney to do what no Republican could have done four years ago. The recovery has dragged, unemployment numbers have stalled out, gasoline prices have recently jumped back up, and more people are on food stamps than ever before. To make matters worse for President Obama, his own support has been dropping slowly but steadily for months.
Romney might pick a dark horse, although some might argue against it. After brutal scrutiny and a bruising primary fight, no one expected him to be as formidable as he has shown himself to be. Why screw it up now?
Whomever he ends up selecting, he should go for smart, competent, and safe. If you’ve already been dealt four aces, there’s no need to attempt to trade them in for a royal flush. You could wind up losing everything.
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