Romney campaign announces early veep pick…who will it be?

The list of potentials is impressive.  Rob Portman (Ohio), Tim Pawlenty (MN), Chris Christie (NJ), Condi Rice, Kelly Ayotee (NH), Paul Ryan (WI), Jeb Bush (FL), Marco Rubio (FL), Bobby Jindal (LA) Photo: Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY, July 13, 2012—Matt Rhoades, Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, sent an email to supporters yesterday with an intriguing announcement:

“Sometime between now and the Republican convention,” he wrote, “Mitt will be announcing his choice for VP.”

The buzz is that Romney will depart from tradition and announce his running mate considerably before the convention in Tampa in late August. And why not? If his number two is going to be a boon to the campaign, isn’t it better to deploy that person earlier rather than later?

That person, more than likely, will not surprise. For months, commentators have speculated on the choices, ballooning the list of potentials. Here is what many of them have said:

Safe versus  bold

Many observers of Governor Romney believe him to be a fundamentally cautious, risk-averse leader. Following the first rule, “do no harm,” the vice presidential selection will come down to competency and safety. Under that rubric, two men top the list.

As former director of the Office and Budget Management, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio knows budgets and can deal with the complex problems that Romney will face. He is bland and effective, the perfect complement to Romney. That he is popular in must-win Ohio is icing on the cake.

Tim Pawlenty, Romney’s one-time primary challenger, has become one of his most loyal surrogates. His demeanor and governing style also reinforces Romney’s—both men served as executives in blue states and had to deal with opposition legislatures.

But perhaps Romney doesn’t want to simply play it safe. Maybe his inner Bainiac will tell him to hire on a brash, in-your-face reformer. In that case, NJ governor Chris Christie would fit the bill, offering a balance to Romney’s staid temperament. An effective executive, Christie can speak to the blue collar voter and perhaps put some purple states in play for the GOP.

Woman talk

Ann Romney made a mini splash with her declaration that the campaign is vetting a woman. Two names usually find themselves into the conversation of a female VP.

Condi Rice would be an out of the box pick, but not a risky one. She has the intellect, character, and ability to assume the office, and she could immunize the ticket from some of the more outlandish, though totally predictable, charges of racism and sexism. No hockey mom she, Rice would present an interesting conundrum for the Obama-Biden ticket as to how to attack.

New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte is known to be very close to the Romney campaign, and boasts an impressive resume. Recall that as a gubernatorial candidate in the Bay State, Romney tapped a relatively unknown female, Kerry Healy, for the lieutenant governor’s spot.

The Reformers

There are many in the conservative movement who want the decision to be in favor of someone who can shake things up and make bold reforms in government.

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is foremost among this group. He is young and fearless, and he understands the scope of the fiscal problems facing the United States. He would get things done, if elected, and he can fire up a significant portion of the base to help make that happen.

Florida’s former governor, Jeb Bush, is also a reformer, of an earlier generation. He seems sincere when he says he doesn’t have any interest in public office, but he could be the Dick Cheney to Romney’s W. An elder statesman with an impressive record at reform in the Sunshine State, he would almost guarantee the GOP takes Florida.

Coalition builders

Speaking of Florida, it is home to a certain United States Senator who has been at the top of every list at least at some point. Marco Rubio is energetic and a wonderful communicator for conservatism. Above all, he might make a huge dent in Democrats’ share of the Hispanic vote, which is why he scares the living daylights out of the Obama campaign.

Bobby Jindal is another young, southern politician who could make inroads in minorities quarters and broaden the conservative coalition. Of Indian descent, Jindal recently won reelection in Louisiana with 66% of the vote. That doesn’t happen in very many states. He also understand complex issues, including Congress, having served there two terms.

The bottom line is that Romney’s pool of potential veeps is deep, and any one of the above mentioned would be a vast improvement over the bumbling Joe Biden.

Until the campaign announces the pick, lists like these will abound. And the intrigue with them. 

Learn more about the author at 

Rich is a teacher and a soldier. In addition to writing the “Rich Like Me” political column at the Washington Times Communities, he is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic TrainingTunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative, which you can follow on Facebook.


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Rich Stowell

Rich Stowell has written about politics and travel for the Washington Times Communities since 2011. He is a soldier in the Utah National Guard and a fellow at the Center for Communication and Community at the University of Utah. Rich is the author of "Nine Weeks: A Teacher's Education in Army Basic Training"and continues to blog about military issues at “My Public Affairs.”

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