If Mitt Romney selects a woman as his Vice Presidential nominee, which woman will it be? While Sarah Palin came from the wilds of Alaska as John McCain's running mate in 2008, the situation in 2012 is much different.
Any one of several Republican female elected leaders have been mentioned as potential running mates for Mr. Romney.
1) Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Some politicos have speculated about the potential for Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2004 representing eastern Washington State. She is the only female and youngest member of the House Republican leadership, and has risen to increasing prominence since the 2010 elections. She has been outspoken in the recent debate on the "Republican War on Women" and according to the Washington Post, is known to Americans as the female most-photographed in proximity to House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Popular among conservatives, McMorris Rodgers has joined Mitt Romney's campaign as liason to House Republicans.
Taken in aggregate, the Republicans may be portrayed negatively in many media outlets, but in real life, the party suffers from an embarrassment of riches of accomplished candidates and office-holders in their 30s, 40s, and early 50s who look and have little in common with the "rich old white man" stereotype of the Republican party portrayed in the media. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the daughter of pioneers who settled in her native Walla Walla, Washington in 1853, and just turned 43 years old. She was elected to Congress at age 35.
2) Susana Martinez
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, age 53, is the first Latina governor in the United States, and has also been mentioned as a potential Republican Vice Presidential nominee. Martinez is a former District Attorney and comes from a family with a law enforcement background. A survivor of brutal political attacks in her home state, she has repeatedly denied she would accept the nomination as a Vice Presidential candidate, and many believe her firm denials, as she takes care of her developmentally disabled sister and puts her family's needs over political concerns.
3) Nikki Haley
South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has fought similar battles with unions and budget concerns as recently-victorious Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, and is also beloved by conservatives nationwide. Young, energetic, and eloquent, Haley has also been mentioned as a potential Vice Presidential nominee. A mother of three who turned 40 on January 20, Haley has a background in accounting, which certainly informs many of her fiscally-conservative positions. Nikki Haley is the first female governor of her state, and is the second, not the first, U.S. governor of Indian-American heritage. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (also mentioned as a potential Vice Presidential candidate) is the first. Both are Republicans.
4) Condoleeza Rice
But the most exciting potential female Republican Vice Presidential nominee is neither a governor nor a member of Congress. She is former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. I know no Republican whose face does not light up at the mention of Condi Rice as Vice Presidential nominee. The carefully-spoken diplomat, scholar, and political scientist would appear to have more than adequate qualifications for the office. Condoleeza Rice has just undertaken her first political fundraising effort ever, headlining the first fundraiser for ShePAC, the new PAC for female Republican candidates. This choice would of course, be Condi's. But no one would say no to her should she agree to serve as running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012.