As Newt Gingrich vows to wage a war of attrition, the adults in the Republican Party (and the Trumpster) are falling in line behind Mitt Romney. Calls for a new candidate to enter the GOP race are emblematic of the lack of foresight that existed throughout this nomination process. It’s Mitt. Get used to it, guys.
Here is a rundown of Romney’s potential running mates’ and their “anti-Romney” factor (AR), electability (EL), and competence for the job (CJ):
Rick Santorum: Still a millionaire, the former senator is well to the right of Romney on social issues and is perceived to be more “salt of the earth” when compared to Romney. As evidenced in Iowa, evangelicals will go for Santorum and he has the bag of crazy to bring them in. Outside of the deep red states, this will not be a huge help to the ticket. With one important exception: Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania.
However, he is not so popular at home and his legislative record is a punching bag for any pol to the left of Pat Robertson. His judgment and moral compass are also big targets. That’s how he got in trouble with Dan Savage.
AR: 7 EL: 5 CJ: 2
Chris Christie: Certainly Romney’s polar opposite in personality, his explosive temperament could also be a liability. By using draconian cuts in New Jersey, Christie has a record that will please those to whom deficits matter the most. However, it will not be hard to find Garden State families who have suffered under his administration. Executive experience has traditionally trumped legislative experience in presidential elections. On the other hand, the governor is really in lock-step with Romney’s Northeastern conservative style. A social moderate? Will that discount him? Electoral advantage here: NJ, PA, NH maybe IN, NC, VA.
AR: 2 EL: 6 CJ: 6
Michele Bachmann: Here again is a mixed bag. The Minnesota representative has a huge record of weird behavior and saying crazy things. But evangelicals like her, she is a woman and is a relatively obscure national figure (a big help in my book). People underestimate Bachmann and she thrives on it. A deft politician, she plays to the base and can hold her own in a fight (see Chris Mathews get owned by her). She is much less stiff than Romney. The major con: She is scary. Given a chance to get to know Bachmann, the thought of her in the White House scares some Republicans, let alone moderates and independents. Electoral advantages in: MN, IA, WI
AR: 8 EL: 4 CJ: 2
Ron Paul: With a strong base of support, any Paul campaign will be infused with grass-roots money and enthusiasm. His libertarian ideals would have many rethinking foreign policy and civil liberties in the U.S. This is a good thing. He is also a southerner who is comfortable to speak his mind in front of crowds. Romney is a northerner who is uncomfortable to say things he doesn’t really believe (but continues to do so) on the campaign trail. Such a clash could be problematic, although these two are both seasoned politicians with a good relationship. Conversely, when Paul speaks for more than a few minutes, he is likely to say something to offend people who place any value in having a competent government with decent public education and environmental policy. His social policies will turn off the ever-important Republican base, but many independents would be swayed. No major battleground advantage, maybe NH or NV.
AR: 7 EL: 4 CJ: 2
Marco Rubio: Here is a newcomer with Tea Party backing. A Floridian of Cuban descent, there are obvious strategic advantages to having him on the ticket. I would not underestimate Romney’s desire to infuse some new blood into the GOP’s withered veins. The support of the corporate-backed Tea Party shows that he is a friend of corporate interests, a blessing and a curse on the 2012 campaign trail. Both a social and fiscal contrast to Romney (well to his right), Rubio is the dark horse in this race. Electoral advantage: Florida, Florida, Florida, NM, CO, NV.
AR: 7 EL: 6 CJ: 4
Tim Pawlenty: A competent politician with executive experience, the former Minnesota governor was an early favorite to challenge Romney. T-Paw, though, lacked foresight and backbone when he pulled out after coming in third to Bachmann and Paul in the Iowa Straw Poll last year. He is a social and fiscal moderate and could swing some key states if the economy continues to stagnate this year. Unfortunately, you could assign the same attributes to Romney. When you consider the competition, he is a good choice for the job. Unfortunately that is not the deciding factor for the GOP. Electoral advantages: MN, IA, WI
AR: 1 EL: 5 CJ: 8
Jon Huntsman: Again, a good choice for vice president. Disqualified! A smart man, the former Utah governor speaks fluent Mandarin and was President Obama’s ambassador to China. These facts do not please the base. His charisma, social stances and fiscal policies mirror Romney’s. And he is a Mormon. The GOP is just not that into you, ambassador. Moderates and independents? That’s another story. Picking Huntsman could be a brilliant general election move, considering deep red states will stay pinkish with this ticket, but it just will not happen. Electoral edge: NH, CO, NM, NV
AR: 0 EL: 8 CJ: 9
Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Donald Trump: Automatic loss in 2012. Please pick one!
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