LOS ANGELES, April 26, 2012 — Now that Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee for President, the attention turns to his selection of a potential Vice President. The person picked will depend on what type of strategy Governor Romney pursues.
Option 1: The safe choice: This falls under the “do no harm” strategy. The safe choice inspires nobody but scares nobody. They will not gain votes for the ticket but they will not lose votes either. More importantly, they will not get the other side galvanized. Safe choices are often seen as boring, which is the entire point. Most safe choices are white Midwestern governors who are tall with good hair. The safe choice is seen as a calm, sober “adult.”
The precedent: While he later became highly controversial, the 2000 selection of Dick Cheney by George W. Bush was seen at the time as a safe choice. During the campaign he was highly regarded even by those who did not like the top of the ticket.
Which one now? Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Ohio Congressman Rob Portman, and South Dakota Senator John Thune all qualify. Mitch Daniels is not as tall as Tim Pawlenty. Daniels is also balding. Even worse, Daniels has a wife who would be portrayed as a shrew for deserting him and their children for another man. He took her back, but the press would rip her to shreds. Portman and Thune do not have executive experience.
Also, South Dakota does not make strategic sense. Pawlenty wins out.
Options 2: The lightning rod: This person is a social conservative who is public about their religious faith. This person is designed to have the Evangelicals get to the polls in any kind of weather. The left despises social conservatives. By picking a lightning rod as the second in command, the presidential candidate can stay above the fray.
The precedent: The 1992 selection of Dan Quayle by George Herbert Walker Bush is the epitome of a lightning rod pick. The ticket won once and lost once, neither time due to the second slot.
Which one now? Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann are both hated by the left. The conservative base loves them. Given that Senator Santorum had a stronger presidential run, coming in second, he would make a better choice in this category.
Also, Pennsylvania is a key state. Besides, after 2008, it might be too soon for another female conservative.
Option 3: The rock star: This is somebody with a national following who thrills the base but has broader support. They speak passionately. While there is often fear that a rock star in the second slot will outshine the boss, bosses secure in themselves do not worry about this.
The precedent: Bob Dole in 1996 was putting people to sleep. Picking a boring, Midwestern governor would not work. He needed a national figure, and went with former football hero and Congressman Jack Kemp.
Yet Kemp gave an underwhelming debate performance, and nothing he did could have saved Bob Dole from himself anyway.
Which one now? Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Florida Congressman Colonel Allen West, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan have all been talked about. None of them should be considered.
They are all fantastic, but they all gave their word that they would not abandon their constituents.
Three of these men are in their first term in office, and Congressman Ryan is desperately needed in Congress on budgetary matters. They would lose their rock star status and aura of authenticity the moment they went back on their word and pursued higher office.
In 2020 they could all run for President. Now is not the time.
Option 4: The attack dog: These candidates know how to debate. They are bare knuckle brawlers. They will savage the other side so that the top of the ticket keeps clean hands.
The precedent: The 1976 decision by Gerald Ford to choose Bob Dole was the last example of slash and burn politics at this level. While Ford made his own mistakes, the comment by Dole about “Democrat wars” in one debate doomed the ticket.
Which one now? New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich excel in this arena. Gingrich is still too easy to demonize, and he sometimes makes unforced errors. His brilliance is a double-edged sword.
Giuliani is still a hero to many because of turning around Gotham City, and this was before his phenomenal performance in the wake of 9/11. Also, Giuliani would not be intimidated by President Obama’s race. Giuliani has the playbook on how to run against a black liberal from his winning Mayoral race against David Dinkins in 1989.
Deemphasize race and emphasize ideology. That strategy still works.
Option 5: The diversity pick: The media is obsessed with every kind of diversity except for ideological diversity. Liberals break everything down by race, gender, and other divisive categories. Conservatives fall into a liberal trap when they embrace ethnic diversity.
This is because while liberals despise conservatives for existing and breathing air, they really despise minority conservatives. Minority conservatives need to be prepared to be destroyed if they enter the arena.
The precedent: The 2008 selection of Sarah Palin by John McCain added a jolt of energy to the ticket. Yet when Lehman Brothers burned and McCain fell behind in the polls, even many weak-kneed Republicans joined Democrats in skewering the Alaska Governor.
Which one now? Businessman Herman Cain, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and my favorite out-of-nowhere dark horse, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, all have been talked about.
Mr. Cain is a non-starter due to allegations swirling around him of a sexual nature. Dr. Rice has ties to the Bush Administration, which may put the left in a lather. Mr. Cantor is the new bogeyman as the top minority conservative in America.
Mr. Cantor is Jewish, which means Jewish leftists like Debbie Wassermann-Schultz and Barbara Boxer would unload on him to prevent Barack Obama from having to do it. Linda Lingle would be the best of this group. She is articulate, and was a highly popular leader in a Democratic state.
She and Dr. Rice are both pro-choice on abortion, which would raise concerns with the base but appeal to moderate female voters. While Hawaii makes little strategic sense, she has a following on the mainland. She is also a Jewish Republican who got elected in a state not known for Jews or Republicans.
Option 6: The money machine: This title is self-explanatory. Somebody who can raise money hand over fist is somebody who knows how to glad hand and speak at rubber chicken dinners. They speak, and wallets open. Running for President is expensive, and a top fundraiser is an asset.
The precedent: There really is no one great example. Perhaps Richard Nixon picking Spiro Agnew would apply, but that did not end well. As important as money is in politics, it has not been enough by itself.
Which one now? There really is only one name in this category. Steve Forbes and Donald Trump were self-financed, but that is not the same as raising money for others. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is the best money-raiser in the Republican Party, and there is no close second.
Mr. Barbour is also a Southerner, which would geographically and ideologically balance the New England candidate Mr. Romney. One liability on Mr. Barbour is his decision to pardon some murderers just as his term ended. Liberals would be delighted at that move but hate everything else about him.
The base loves everything else about him but would have concerns about that decision.
In making a final decision, it is important to understand that certain candidates have crossover appeal in terms of categories. Chris Christie is a rock star but also an attack dog. Sarah Palin was a diversity pick who became a lightning rod.
One issue will be executive experience. The person needs to be ready to take over on day one. Dick Cheney and George Herbert Walker Bush were seen as easily passing this test. Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin were not.
There are several good choices. Senator Santorum is a lightning rod, but he is loved by the base. He came in second, and he could unify the party. Governor Lingle is well liked, non-threatening, and intelligent. She is a successful problem-solver like Mr. Romney. She has crossover appeal. Yet the best choice has to come from the best category.
2008 was a sexiness election. Barack Obama had people swooning, and John McCain did not. Adding Sarah Palin to the ticket revitalized the GOP and scared the daylights out of the left.
Sarah Palin is not the reason the GOP lost in 2008.
2012 will not be a sexiness election. People are tired of the flash, glitz, and glamour. They want substance. They want somebody who can put their head down and deal with the nuts and bolts of governing.
Mitt Romney is tall, has good hair, is inoffensive, and looks like he was born out of the womb wearing a red and blue diagonal necktie talking about debits and credits. This is one election where the Vice President should be even less thrilling.
The ideal candidate for Vice President would be somebody that seems so boring that they make Ohio Governor John Kasich seem fascinating. Since IBM computers cannot run for office, a real person will have to do.
The best choice for Vice President is Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. He is tall, has good hair, is inoffensive and harmlessly non-descript. He is also a successful two-term executive who got things done despite having a legislature in a Blue State controlled by Democrats.
While the left will look for an excuse to hate whoever the choice is, with Mr. Pawlenty it would be “fake hate.” He is a calm, serious, likable guy. He also has a decent sense of humor, and is not nearly as boring as he is made out to be. He is a former hockey player who likes to be called T-Paw. Until becoming a serious presidential contender, he even had a mullet.
The Romney-Pawlenty ticket would be derided as the most charismatically challenged ticket in the history of American politics. In today’s serious times, that is exactly what America needs. It is time for the poets to depart the stage and be replaced with serious adults with Excel spreadsheets and diagonal neckties.
Governor Tim Pawlenty is the best choice for Vice President.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian.
Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. After years of dating liberals, he has finally seen the light and now only dates Republican Jewish women. His family is pleased over this. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
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