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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

VP Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! In celebration of this contrived gimmick of a holiday, let's roll out a contrived gimmick of a column. Below are my top three valentine matches for each remaining candidate's vice-presidential nominee. In each case, I ask myself two questions. 1) Who makes the most sense for this candidate's general election chances? 2) Who would this candidate actually pick for running mate? Vice-presidential choices have to qualify for both lists to make the cut.

Here they are--valentine matches for each candidate. Both the presidential candidates and vice-president possibilities are in descending order of probability.

Ron Paul3. Andre Marrou--Ron Paul is a tough one to pair up. No one in the Republican Party would leave their job and party to drive down a one-way, dead-end street. Therefore, for all three choices, I had to search outside the GOP and head for the Paul-ish Libertarian Party. There's actually precedent for Paul running with Marrou. In the 1988 election (Bush over Dukakis--the first election I remember!), Paul was the nominee of the Libertarian Party, and Marrou was his running mate. Could they turn back the hands of time? Probably not. Both are septuagenarians, and as unlikely as Paul is to be the Republican nominee, Marrou is less likely to be his running mate.

2. Gary Johnson--Incredibly, the best line of the entire Republican Primary was not uttered by one of the four remaining candidates, nor by one of the four candidates who dropped out before them. It was uttered by a man who got into only one nationally televised debate. Standing on the far left of a panel of nine candidates, the former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, offered this beauty: "My next door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this current administration." His lack of success in the Republican Primary caused him to bolt for the Libertarian Party and run for its nomination. For Paul's #2, it makes some sense. Both have similar ideas about the size of government. Johnson, as a former governor, brings the executive experience that Paul lacks. (Wait, am I rationally breaking down Ron Paul VP choices? Good lord. Moving on...)

1. Wayne Allyn Root--A 40-year-old, disillusioned Libertarian (lost his presidency bid at the 2008 Libertarian National Convention and then lost a bid to become the Chair of the Libertarian Party two years later) with a great tan? Perfect security for Paul's experienced-looking face.

Onto the real candidates...

Newt Gingrich3. Jon Huntsman--For the last three elections, the Republican Party has had either George W. Bush or Sarah Palin on its ticket. Whether their reputations in the media and across the country are fair or not, they do have reputations in the media and across the country. They're not exactly known as "curious" people who sit down with James Joyce to unwind. With a Gingrich/Huntsman ticket, we have what probably amounts to the two smartest-sounding Republicans from the entire primary on one intellectual ticket. That's a welcome image for a Republican Party that is too often associated with southern, "salt of the earth" folksiness rather than northern university "book smarts." A bonus to the pairing is we have Gingrich's congressional experience from the southeast with Huntsman's successful governing experience in the midwest. Both are well-read on international affairs and would make a powerful diplomatic team in uncertain times.

2. Rick Perry--When Rick Perry dropped out before the South Carolina Primary, he immediately threw his support behind Gingrich. That could be a prelude to a ticket partnership. Perry could use four to eight years as VP to hone is rough public appearance skills, and Gingrich could use someone to really electrify the evangelical base of the party. Perry's organization is much more structured and widespread than Gingrich's. Plus, once again, we pair a legislator with an executive.

1. Marco Rubio--You'll see his name again. And again. Wait for it.

Rick Santorum3. Rick Perry--Similar to the case I made for Gingrich, Perry brings Santorum some executive experience and a candidate that pumps up the base of the Republican Party. Actually, given a Santorum/Perry tandem, you'd have a ticket that conservatives haven't been this excited about since, well, maybe ever. There would be a massive effort from the pro-life community to get these two elected. After Romney gets in line and supports the two--probably positioning for a cabinet position like Treasury--you'd see an incredibly potent fund-raising machine.

2. Mitch Daniels--Like Perry, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels brings executive experience to pair with Santorum's experience in the US Senate. Daniels is in his second term, winning reelection in 2008 with an impressive 58 percent of the vote, good enough for an 18 point win over his Democratic challenger. More impressive is that in that year, Indiana voted for Democratic Senator Obama in the presidential election, but overwhelmingly kept their Republican governor. Since then, Daniels has grown his popularity, boasting a 75 percent approval rating in the middle of his second term. Daniels has boasted a conservative record that Santorum would appreciate, including significant budget cuts and enacting socially conservative legislation. Showing his status in the national party, the RNC chose Governor Daniels to give the rebuttal to President Obama's 2012 State of the Union.

1. Marco Rubio--Wait for it, I said!

Mitt Romney
3. Chris Christie--If the Republican Primary goes all the way to the convention, I think Governor Christie of New Jersey is the most likely outsider to be nominated by the panicked floor. Barring that, once Romney secures the nomination earlier, Christie must be on his VP short list. He already did the right thing by Romney through endorsing him early in the process back in October. Christie brings legitimate conservative credentials, and is a darling of numerous national conservative voices, including Ann Coulter. He won the 2008 gubernatorial election in a year where Obama easily carried New Jersey in the presidential election. In fact, Christie became the first Republican to win a state-wide New Jersey election in 12 years. Considering Romney's supposed strength with moderates in a general election, pairing him with a red governor of a blue state could win a lot of independent voters.

Christie is not a lock--and is ranked behind two others on this list--for a few reasons. One, like Romney, he's a governor which doesn't diversify the ticket; while they might boast executive experience, they lack foreign policy experience, and neither has ever worked in a legislature (Romney a business man, Christie a lawyer). Two, not only do they lack background diversification, they're both from the northeast, which means no geographical diversification either. Finally, Christie has a tendency to say some bombastic things (or at least say them in a refreshingly straight-forward way), and while that might play well in New Jersey, it won't sit well with many independents across the country.

2. Marco Rubio--Marco Rubio is the only lock to be on all the shortlists of all three legitimate candidates. The junior senator from Florida brings three enormously important attributes to a Romney/Rubio ticket.

  1. If the Republicans want to compete with President Obama in the minority vote, they have to do it with Latinos. The President will carry a heavy majority of African-Americans. We know this. But the Latino vote across the country could be brought over to the GOP column if Cuban-American Marco Rubio is on its ticket.

  2. With a more focused lens, Senator Rubio could bring the ever-important swing state of Florida back to the Republican column. After voting for President Bush one-and-a-half times, it was wrestled away by Barack Obama in 2008. The state, it goes without saying, is an important piece of the electoral puzzle. In fact, only once in the last 50 years, and twice in the last 80, has Florida voted for the losing candidate (Voted for Bush I in 1992 and Nixon in 1960).

  3. With conservative apprehensions toward Mitt Romney, securing the "Crown Prince" of the Tea Party could go a long way toward shoring up conservative support. In fact, at this past weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference, they voted Rubio as their preferred vice-presidential candidate.
Yet, despite being the #1 VP valentine for both Gingrich and Santorum, Marco Rubio is not #1 for the most likely presidential nominee of the bunch. Romney's #1 is...

1. Rick Santorum--Think about it. This pairing makes a lot of sense. Just off the top of my head:

  • Governor/Senator combo

  • Santorum shores up concerns of Romney's Mormonism.

  • Santorum shores up concerns about Romney's moderate past.

  • Anti-Obama moderates can live with Romney if Santorum doesn't have any actual power.

  • Conservatives can live with Romney if they know Santorum is around the corner.

  • Santorum is young and has a future with the party.

  • They will probably finish first and second in the delegate count, and August's Republican National Convention will see them unify the party after an acrimonious primary.

  • And perhaps the most important reason of all: I just love making Rick Santorum some other guy's valentine.
It makes a lot of sense. Get used to it.

Until next time,


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