Following a half hour sit down between Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and the now official GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, many are now speculating that Paul is the early favorite to be named as Romney’s running mate.
Selecting a vice presidential candidate is generally considered the most important decision a candidate for president makes, and can very easily make or break a campaign.
But is Rand Paul — a Tea Party Southerner and the son of libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Texas) — the right choice?
In some regards the selection of Paul as Romney’s running mate makes a lot of sense. Rand Paul is one of the darlings of the Tea Party movement. Ideologically speaking, Rand is extremely similar to his father with his message of small government, drastic cuts in spending and fewer taxes. The selection of Rand Paul as Romney’s VP candidate will likely appease the Tea Party and libertarian factions of the Republican Party which have grown increasingly powerful in the last three years.
Despite his economic credentials, many Republicans across the nation remain skeptical of Romney, due to the fact that he is the former pro-choice governor of one of the nation’s bluest states, who also coincidentally enacted his own version of the Republican-loathed “Obamacare” health care law while in office in Massachusetts. Consequently, the overall moderate Romney will likely need to select a running mate who is able to effectively mobilize the Republican base. Paul could fit the bill as he has consistently attempted to champion popular Republican causes during his short tenure in the Senate.
Further, the selection of Paul as Romney’s candidate would officially squash any hopes that Rand’s dad — a libertarian icon — will run as a third party candidate, stealing passionate right-wing, youth, and Tea Party votes from Romney in the process. Rand, who had reportedly flirted with the idea of running for president himself last year, publicly stated that he would not run if his father was going to as well. Hence, Rand might serve as an acceptable crossover candidate for Tea Party loyalists who, as the elections of 2010 indicate, will likely wield significant power in this year’s election.
However, the selection of Paul as VP might also serve as a risky proposition for Romney. Paul, who only entered the public realm of politics during the 2010 surge of Tea Party candidates, has even less experience in governing than President Barack Obama had when he ran for president in 2008. While they both will have served two years in the Senate as they campaigned for the White House, President Obama also served in the Illinois state legislature before his election. If selected, many will decry Paul as being too inexperienced for the duties of the presidency. This may further disadvantage the Romney ticket during vice presidential debates with the seasoned statesman Joe Biden. If gaffes due to inexperience occur — as they did with Sarah Palin in 2008 — Romney’s campaign would take a blow with moderate voters who will ultimately decide the election.
Also, while Paul, who is a surgeon by trade, champions the economic policies advocated by the Tea Party, he has little-to-no practical experience in the private sector. Experience in this regard will be a key tenant in Romney’s campaign from now until November, and selecting a running mate with no such experience might prove to be a mistake.
Lastly, the selection of Paul would make little sense from the standpoint of electoral votes. Whereas Florida Senator Marco Rubio has long been rumored as a potential running-mate, in large part because he might assist in delivering his home state of Florida, Paul represents Kentucky, which is ubiquitously considered to go Republican in November as it has for the previous three presidential contests.
Should Romney pick Rand as his VP candidate? The negatives out-shine the positives on this one, and the former governor should instead seek a better VP candidate.
Sorry Ron Paul fans.