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Thursday, February 14, 2008

McCain's Top 10 VP Valentines

With McCain having the nomination in his back pocket, and with some downtime between primaries, I thought it was an excellent time for a gimmick column. On Valentine's Day 2008, which politician would make the best match for John McCain? Who is the likeliest Vice-Presidential candidate? Here are my thoughts on the top ten likeliest Vice-President choices, in reverse order for dramatic effect.

Considerations that did not make the list: Sarah Palin (too inexperienced), Kay Bailey Hutchison (makes it if Clinton is nominated), Michael Steele, JC Watts (African-American vote not up for grabs, and could hurt with the far right base), Fred Thompson (too old), Jeb Bush, Condoleezza Rice (too close to the President).

10. Joe Lieberman (Senator, Connecticut)I had to include him, if for no other reason than to bring up the Dream Election. Of course, the Dream Election was only feasible if the conservative base screwed over McCain after he patiently waited for eight years after losing to then-Governor Bush. McCain would run third party for his last hurrah, and he'd run on the platform of bipartisanship, targeting the moderate and Independent third of the country. To secure the middle ground, he would run with former Democrat Joe Lieberman, with whom McCain is famously friends. This would split the country in three parts, Democrat, Republican, and In-between.

Alas, McCain will easily win the nomination, and a glance at his struggle with the conservative base reveals that to select a former Democrat as his VP would be general election suicide.

9. Sam Brownback (Senator, Kansas)
He ran for president this time around but could never get off the ground. McCain can pick him up and make him a lock for the nomination when he steps down. He is an uber-conservative that would be a light at the end of the tunnel for the social conservative base.

8. Newt Gingrich (Former House Speaker, Georgia)
He's the smartest Republican in the country. He was going to run before some issues with his American Solutions group did not allow him to. Considering how the election panned out, he probably would have won. He brings McCain's knowledge of the Middle East, as well as agreement with McCain that the war is necessary, but it was just mismanaged in its early stages. Additionally, he brings something McCain does not, and that's a tried and true conservative record, greater than McCain's 82%. He is a hero in the Republican Party, dating back to the 1994 Revolution. I consider him the early favorite for the 2012 election should Hillary Clinton win. The problem is, he's not going to run for VP if he think the Republicans will lose, as that will damage his chances at running for the top spot in 2012.

7. Mike Huckabee (Former Governor, Arkansas)
With each passing day, McCain has to consider bringing Huckabee on board in order to start his national election. If Huckabee had squeaked out Virginia on Tuesday, McCain would not have been able to win the nomination until at least May. Now, however, McCain can realistically secure the nomination by March 4th, or, at the latest, with the Pennsylvania Primary on April 22nd, making a Huckabee choice less likely. McCain might even hold Huckabee's stubbornness against him.

6. Jim DeMint (Senator, South Carolina)
He's a southerner with a 100% conservative rating in 2006. He is the perfect balance for McCain... but he's a Senator with no executive experience from a state that is not in play.

5. Charlie Crist (Governor, Florida)
When looking at electoral math, this guy jumps out. He's extraordinarily popular in Florida, and if Republicans want to hold onto the White House, they must hold onto Florida. His endorsement of McCain before the Florida Primary might have made the difference when McCain delivered the almost-knockout blow to Mitt Romney. However, his executive experience is limited, as he's only had it for less than two years. Moreover, while he does keep Florida red, his popularity will not extend to any other state or region.

4. Mark Sanford (Governor, South Carolina)
He's similar to DeMint, except as a governor, there is executive experience.

3. John Thune (Senator, South Dakota)
He's young (47), extremely conservative (100% in 2006), and is a quasi-hero in the party after knocking off Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle in 2004. Moreover, he's fervently supporting the McCain campaign, which will help with skeptical conservatives. Unfortunately, two senators on a ticket have no executive experience, and South Dakota is hardly an advantageous state for the Republicans.

2. Tim Pawlenty (Governor, Minnesota)
Pawlenty has a check next to his name in all categories, and must be on McCain's short list. He has executive experience. He's from a swing state. He's conservative. He's young and has a future in the party.

1. Mitt Romney (Former Governor, Massachusetts)
Romney dropped out of the race for the same reason Huckabee stayed in it. They both want to be considered for the VP nomination by the guy who beat them. Huckabee's strategy was that if he won enough states, McCain would just want to end the primary as soon as possible by offering the #2 spot to Huckabee. However, McCain's sweep of Huckabee on Tuesday makes McCain's nomination as inevitable as ever.

This leaves Romney, whose breathtakingly conservative withdrawal speech was a verbal audition for the VP nod. He said he needed to get out of the way for McCain (while Huckabee and Paul were still in the race, by the way). He talked about the importance of the war on terror, implying McCain was the right guy for the job. He also mentioned the importance of the future of the Republican Party remaining the conservative party.

In the closing weeks of Romney's campaign, the conservative base was pushing his campaign. It was probably more anti-McCain than pro-Romney, but regardless, if the two joined up, it would galvanize the Republican Party more than any other potential ticket with McCain on top. Romney brings a geographical balance, executive experience, a handsome family, personal and public economic success, and millions of his own dollars into the campaign war chest.

He would make a great Valentine for John McCain.


A. Michael Bussek said...

How come you don't even mention Rudy G.?

Best regards!

IC said...

Similar to Lieberman, the social right would explode at a McCain-Giuliani ticket. Giuliani brings nothing that the Republicans don't already have with McCain.

A. Michael Bussek said...

Well, I don't agree, but thank you for your answer anyway.
Since even the bookmakers have Rudy G. on their official list now, I couldn't understand you not mentioning him at all.

I've written quite a lot about the McCain/Giuliani ticket and will continue to do so:

Good luck!

ElephantMan said...

Why include Crist but dismiss Palin as too inexperienced? (they were elected Gov. first time in 2006). Plus, Palin has executive experience as a two-term mayor and has already won a number of knock down, drag out legislative fights as Gov. Plus, she's already been elected chairwoman of the nations largest interstate compact, the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).

IC said...

El, you must know the answer.
Florida vs. Alaska.

Anonymous said...

Consider John Kasich.

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