With the Iowa Caucus just a few weeks away and the GOP primary race slowly evolving into a dogfight between former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, it is never too early to begin pondering who should be the GOP’s vice presidential nominee. Below are some of the names that have been mentioned as possible VP running mates. I explore each individuals’ strengths and their weaknesses.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez: Martinez was elected as governor in 2010 replacing former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson. Governor Martinez would bring obvious strengths to the GOP ticket. She is a popular female governor of a Western state. She also adds a new dimension by being a Latina who is also a chief executive of a border state. If Gingrich does clinch the nomination, he could use her to pull the Republican Party into creating a more pro-immigration policy as he has already indicated he would do in previous debates. This is very important if the Republicans don’t want to alienate the fastest growing voting demographic in the nation.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman: Easy-going technocrat Rob Portman is another politician worthy of Veep consideration. He has years of experience dealing with budget issues as the Office of Management and Budget director in the George W. Bush administration and recently served on the Deficit Reduction Committee. In addition, he was elected in a landslide in 2010 in a state that will be pivotal in deciding the victor of the 2012 race. Portman however, is not without flaws; his service in the Bush administration could hurt him in the eyes of voters. Also, he has relatively little foreign policy experience like both Romney and Gingrich.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: Governor Christie has been capturing the hearts and imaginations of the right wing since he arrived on the national political scene after he was elected the Garden State’s chief executive in 2009. Christie’s no nonsense attitude has earned him both admirers and detractors. Due to his high profile endorsement of Romney prior to the Dartmouth debate in the fall, I would expect he is at the top of Romney’s list. But his divisive ethos might not bode well with an electorate that is tired of political infighting (especially if Gingrich is the nominee) and I seriously doubt that Christie would settle for the number two slot anyway.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio: Senator Rubio is young, dynamic, charismatic, and a Senator from a swing state, all qualities that add gravitas to his name. Senator Rubio’s ethnicity could help his party attract Latino voters in Florida and other key swing states with high Latino populations like New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. His youth would also provide a unique contrast to the more seasoned Romney or Gingrich. His Tea Party credentials are a double-edged sword though. While they would certainly attract the ticket to a voting demographic whose rise in power shadowed his own, they might also alienate him from independent voters who have a growing suspicion of the Tea Party.
In addition to the above candidates, several other names have been mentioned as possible VP picks: Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to name a few. Anyway the race goes though, the Republican nominee will have a comprehensive list of running mates who all have the ability to capture new voting demographics and help whoever the GOP nominee is become the 45th president.
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