Dulik: Palin 2.0 an Unlikely VP Choice
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 10, 2012 11:05
With Mitt Romney having nicely sewn up the Republican presidential nomination, there is one major question mark left to salivate over: Whom will Romney pick as his running mate?
Before giddily poring over the prospective individuals on his short list, I find it interesting to explore the process adopted by the Romney campaign. Some have speculated that Romney will name his running mate relatively early in order to consolidate his base, energize his campaign and turn the page on the divisive primary contests.
That is likely wishful thinking by a ravenous media. Instead, you can count on an exhaustive, comprehensive and extended process that will prioritize the working relationship between Romney and his number two — both on the campaign trail and in a Romney administration.
If you’re like me and enjoyed the “Game Change” book and movie, you caught a glimpse of running mate vetting at its worst. John McCain’s campaign exercised appallingly little scrutiny of Sarah Palin beyond the most superficial prospectus. The result spoke for itself. You can expect the Romney campaign to diligently avoid this McCain model and go out of its way to nitpick and finesse its ultimate decision.
There are two diametric models of selecting a running mate. On the one hand, you seek someone who complements you in terms of geography, personality or experience. The Kennedy-Johnson ticket exemplified this model, with its regional balancing and contrast of character between the two men. Such a ticket can attract broad support but risks sending schizophrenic messages and creating antipathy and discord between the running mates.
On the other hand, a presidential candidate sometimes seeks another version of himself to reinforce the core message of the campaign. No better case of this exists than the partnership between Bill Clinton and Al Gore, two moderate young Southerners from neighboring states. Here, the benefit is a cogent message and a strong working partnership on the ticket. Yet it risks presenting a monochromatic message that inhibits outreach to diverse constituencies.
Let’s say Romney opts for the first model. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tops most people’s lists. Young, telegenic, Latino and from a mega swing state, Rubio would be the ultimate complement to Romney. Other choices include Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-Nev.), another popular Hispanic conservative from a swing state, and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.), who is young, popular and represents diversity in the GOP. This category is rich with potential candidates who balance out Romney in terms of race, ideology and geographic base. They all feature immense risk but the potential for a big Election Day payoff.
But at this point, I doubt Romney will go this direction. McCain was a risk-taker and a romantic, while Romney is fastidious, cautious and unlikely to make the same mistake as McCain. Throughout his political career, Romney has placed a high premium on personal loyalty and wonkish hard work, and I am convinced that he will look for an individual who shares his values.
With that in mind, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) could be an outstanding choice. The hugely popular, intelligent and personable senator hails from the crucial Cincinnati area of a swing state, but Portman is vulnerable for having been a lead contributor behind some of George Bush’s unpopular fiscal policies. Even so, I like his odds. I can also see Romney tapping Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.), former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) or Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.) to fill the bottom half of his ticket.
A supernova pick might be House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), whose visit to Georgetown yesterday underscored his flourishing political profile. A darling of conservatives thanks to his courageous and innovative plans on entitlement programs and fiscal policy, Ryan is young, dynamic and personable but simultaneously an intellectual and a workhorse. Although Democrats have worked to demonize his good name, Ryan as a candidate for vice president could inject some youth and vigor into the GOP ticket while rounding out the heavy emphasis on policy chops and intellectual prowess.
All said, Romney might surprise everyone with a dark horse pick, such as Condoleezza Rice, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) or Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). In presidential politics, unpredictability reigns. Romney’s choice can easily be dictated by the media coverage he receives, polling data or developments in current events. However, I have a hunch that we’ll see the number two slot filled with someone who has more in common with Romney than the two have differences.
Sam Dulik is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. He is the director for special events for the Georgetown University College Republicans. This is the last appearance of QUORUM CALL for this year.