Speculation about when presidential candidate Mitt Romney will announce his vice presidential nomination has been swirling for months, with most rumors centering around the GOP convention to be held in the last week of August.
At a benefit in New York City on the morning of Thursday, Aug. 9, fundraiser Emile Henry told supporters that Romney was about to receive a ton of momentum from the announcement of his VP pick, the convention, and the debates.
Cryptic ... but also very exciting.
Both Sarah Palin and Joe Biden’s Wikipedia pages received heavy edits in the days before their announcement as vice presidential nominee, and the Wikipedia pages for Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, and Rob Portman have all begun to receive more edits. Romney has said that he will be releasing his announcement through an app, available to download on iTunes. Some analysts have pointed to this Friday as the day that the guessing games will come to an end.
Though the list of choices is narrowing down, there are still a number of frontrunners: House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) seem to be the most likely picks.
Of course, there’s also a couple of dark horse contenders: former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and CIA Director David Petraeus are all options as well. Here are the basic stats on the most likely options.
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Pros: the Wall Street Journal just called him the best pick for VP, citing his proactive focus on entitlement reform as the factor that sets him ahead of other candidates. National Review Editor Rich Lowry wrote for Politico that Romney’s campaign needs “to have an unmistakable substantive content” and that Ryan would help pull Romney away from “a presidential campaign devoid of real interest.”
Cons: In some senses, the same as the pros. If Romney wants to avoid bringing up concrete plans about issues like the House budget, he’ll avoid choosing someone as proactive as Ryan.
Pros: According New York Times analysis, Portman is the most likely candidate to swing the national election in Romney’s favor (the odds were computed based on likelihood that the VP swings their home state for Romney, and that that swinging swings the election.) The Wall Street Journal called him “well respected nearly everywhere for his thoughtful, disciplined brand of conservative politics.”
Cons: His role in the Bush administration is hanging over him like a cloud, and won’t help Romney to differentiate himself from America’s most recent Republican president and the public’s low opinion of him.
Pros: If Romney is looking to pick a VP nominee who appeals to a broader voter base, Rubio could be his guy. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani just said that Rubio is the best choice, pointing out that the child of Cuban immigrants will appeal to Hispanic voters as well as the youth.
Cons: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that Rubio has less chief executive experience than Sarah Palin had, and he’s not wrong. Despite critics who roll their eyes at a mini-me VP pick, Romney may be hesitant to rock the boat but choosing someone this new to politics.
The Dark Horses:
Pros: This two-term Minnesota governor’s “working-class roots and middle American values would counter the stereotype of Mr. Romney as too rich and disconnected to average concerns,” the Wall Street Journal argued. He’s unlikely to bring many surprises, so he’ll be a good choice if Romney decides to play it safe.
Cons: The New York Times’ analysis found that Pawlenty would actually lower the odds of Romney winning the electoral college, not to mention the risk that voters nationwide would approve of him even less than his home state does. Also, there’s a thin line between “safe” and “boring,” and there’s not much more that Pawlenty adds to the ticket that a clone of Romney himself wouldn’t add.
Pros: The conservative Drudge Report incorrectly named her as a VP frontrunner last month, but there’s a decent case to be made for Condi. She brings foreign policy experience, appeals to African American voters, and might help the Republican Party to overcome the bad press their “War on Women” has earned them.
Cons: Like Portman, Condi has a connection to Bush—especially to his unpopular foreign policy—that might make Romney’s ticket look more like a blast from the past than the next step into the future. While calling herself “mildly pro-choice” would win Condi approval from more socially liberal independents, it could also alienate Romney’s ticket from the most enthusiastically conservative parts of his base.
Pros: The CIA director might be “too good to be true” as a VP pick. Between his Princeton PhD in International Relations and his four-star General rank, he’s got a long list of qualifications and seems like one of the most competent people in Washington.
Cons: He just made a statement that he “will not seek elected office,” so even if Romney picks him, he might not accept. George Washington may have been chosen as our first president precisely because he didn’t want the job, but those days are long behind us.
Friday, Aug. 10: Will it be Paul Ryan? By PM Pundit Joesph Doolen:
This week, we are once again experiencing a slew ofspeculation on Mitt Romney’s VP pick, as reports come in that we can expect the choice to become public in days, if not hours. Wonks nationwide are monitoring their social media and RSS feeds more than ever (let’s hope they are not driving or walking in public) in anticipation that the news will come ahead of, or during, Romney’s weekend trip through four swing states.
While Beltway insiders are calling for, or at least expecting, Mitt Romney to play it safe, others claim that a bold, unexpected, or potentially controversial choice could electrify what has been a lackluster campaign. The Wall Street Journal contends that Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) is that choice.
Wednesday’s editorial claims that Ryan provides a starker contrast to Obama on the topic of deficit reduction, in which Ryan has championed entitlement cuts as the path to fiscal discipline and deficit reduction. For years, the famed Ryan Budget has been posited by Republicans as the cure to all that ills the post-economic crash economy.
While undoubtedly controversial, a Ryan pick would definitely put a charge into a campaign dogged for weeks by accusations ranging from unethical business practices to tax evasion by the former governor.
If elected, Ryan’s reputation portends that he would be a more “hands-on” type of public figure than others who have held the office. Former Ryan staffer Stephanie Kundert told me in a July message that “Ryan would have an incredible amount of influence as our nation's Vice President - even more than his predecessors.”
While Romney is typically a soft-spoken character with amorphous ideas and plans, this has worked quite well for him in his career. It would follow that (according to insiders) a “safe” choice like former director of Bush 43’s Office of Management and Budget Rob Portman is at the top of the list.
This may swing Ohio, but Portman's resume deserves serious scrutiny. See Michael Luciano's excellent analysis for elaboration.
The Nation’s John Nichols (a fellow Madisonian) has parallel criticisms of Ryan, calling his budget plans “austerity.” Denial of this as a Republican platform is difficult, especially considering that conservatives are largely comfortable with such measures.
An adept fundraiser, Romney would be wise to go with Ryan if he plans to continue to run as the anti-Obama rather than a New England moderate. Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes would definitely be put back into play after the Badger State has been trending toward Obama recently.
Conversely, fears of another disastrous vice presidential pick by a Republican nominee may sway the campaign away from a Ryan pick. Liberal talk show host Stephanie Miller was licking her chops this morning, contending that such a choice would be Palinesque and a boon for Obama.
If a Tea Party favorite like Ryan would cause an October boondoggle for Romney, who wouldn’t do the same? Purely for the electoral math, after careful consideration, I have previouslyrecommended that Romney pick another Tea Party darling, Marco Rubio.
Portman and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, another VP shortlister, were on the campaign trail for Romney in Colorado this week. Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, also under heavy consideration, campaigned in Michigan.
Get ready, fellow journos, the choice is coming. Definitely before the convention in 18 days, at least. What would you do in Romney’s place? Make a safe or risky choice? Be boring or bold?
Thursday, Aug. 9: Rob Portman Isn't Just Another Old White Guy: Check out this great reporting from Ohioian and PolicyMic Pundit Mariah Dunsing:
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio (R-OH) is said to be on Romney’s short-list for the VP nod, but would Portman be of any value to former Governor Mitt Romney?
By now we’re all familiar with Portman’s impressive credentials. He’s spent time in the House as well as the Senate, was head of the Office of Management and Budget, and served as U.S. Trade Representative a cabinet-level position. This unique combination of experiences makes him a man that Ohio voters (some of the most fickle in the nation) feel they can trust when it comes to matters of the economy and the budget — two of Romney’s main areas of emphasis during his campaign.
While Portman would do little to address the demographic problems faced by Republicans each election cycle –– since he is old and white –– he brings other things to the table, which may prove more valuable in the long run. Portman is a roll-up-your sleeves, let’s have a down-home lunch kind of guy, making him a man who will (and does) resonate with Mid-Western and Southern voters. Speaking at a recent campaign event in Ashland, Ohio, Portman interacted with businessmen, farmers, college students, and got along well with each group. His ability to navigate these different demographics in a personable manner will be of great importance to Romney, who frequently comes across as awkward and out-of-touch.
Moreover, we can’t lose sight of the elephant in the room: Portman is from Ohio, and he recently won a huge majority in his Senate race here. Some commentators have chocked that up to a terrible democratic opponent and pro-Republican election year, but there’s more to it than that. Portman is a man that Ohioans trust because he’s personable and because of his experiences in Congress, the OMB, and abroad. He’s experienced in economic matters without reeking of big business and that’s certainly not something Romney can say.
In the end, Portman is another old, boring, white guy from Ohio. But, he’s also a proven leader whose experience aligns quite well with the issues Romney cares most about — the economy, job creation, energy resources. Plus, we all know how important winning Ohio’s electoral votes are, so some good old-fashioned Ohio loyalty certainly can’t hurt Romney.