Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mitt Romney May Have The Inside Track To Become John McCain's Running Mate, According To Politico.com

In a surprise to many Republican insiders, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is at the top of the vice presidential prospect list for John McCain. The only remaining hurdle seems to be continuing lack of personal chemistry between the two. KSL Channel 5 and KTVX Channel 4 are the only Utah media outlets to pick up on the story, which originated at Politico.com.

Campaign insiders say McCain plans to name his running mate very shortly after Barack Obama does, as part of what one campaign planner called a “bounce-mitigation strategy.” But the McCain campaign has declined to comment on the report.

Romney's Strengths:

- His ability to raise huge amounts of money quickly through his former business partners and from fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormons. Romney could potentially raise $50 million in 60 days. One close Romney adviser said it could even be $60 million.

— He is squeaky-clean and fully vetted by the national media.

— He has presidential looks and bearing and immediately would be a strong campaigner who could be trusted to stay on message.

— His family’s Michigan roots would help in a swing state that went Democratic in 2004.

On the flip side, despite the buddy-picture choreography of a recent McCain-Romney campaign swing, McCain remains less than enamored with Romney. In addition, some of McCain’s closest confidants show little enthusiasm for Romney, attributable to lingering bad blood from the GOP primary, a genuine skepticism that such a conventional pick could bolster the ticket in a grim year for the GOP, and concerns about whether his Mormon faith could imperil McCain in Southern states that Obama hopes to put into play.

Not mentioned in the article is the fact that Romney has been perceived to be a flip-flopper on a number of social issues, to include gay marriage and elective abortion. However, this is not the problem it once was.

McCain sources also say he’ll pick his vice presidential candidate based more on ability to govern than ability to help in the election.

Two other names reportedly in the top tier include Rob Portman, a former congressman from Ohio with a varied political portfolio. Not only was Portman a member of House leadership, but he was also a U.S. trade ambassador and a White House budget director. Not much public name recognition, though. The second entry is Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who would delight conservatives and is at the top of the list of the party’s prospects for the presidential race in 2012 or 2016. He was described to Politico by a McCain confidant as a possible “compromise” if the senator can’t stomach picking Romney. Thune has more name recognition and would provide solid genographical balance.

The second tier of candidates former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA.). No longer mentioned is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and dark horse Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Jindal's youth apparently would accentuate rather than mitigate the age issue. While Palin was not mentioned in the Politico story, she's been spoken of as a dark horse because she brings "eye candy" to the ticket, but despite her constant 85 percent approval ratings in Alaska, knowledgeable Alaska insiders such as the Voice Of The Times and former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Halcro are exposing her as a lightweight who is in over her head.

In addition, a Soviet-style "cult of personality" may be growing up around Governor Palin; on June 29th, conservative columnist Dan Fagan wrote a column about a newly-published coffee-table book about Alaska's history of statehood, and while it contains a zillion pictures of Palin, it allegedly contains only two pictures of Senator Ted Stevens, who has served the state for 40 years. In contrast, Palin is only in the midst of her second year as governor, although she previously served six years as mayor of Wasilla.

O.K., back to Mitt Romney. What do the rest of the "chattering classes" have to say about it? U.S. News and World Report likes the idea; they believe Romney would stop the slide towards market socialism and obsession with "fairness". The Boston Herald reports that the Massachusetts GOP is "excited" over the prospect.

However, the New Republic pans the idea, stating that it doesn't make "sense". They point to the lack of chemistry with McCain, his plutocratic economic background, and his flip-flopping as stumbling blocks.

Analysis: A McCain-Romney ticket would be the strongest possible ticket the Republicans could present - if it is handled properly. First, the personal chemistry issue is NOT insoluble; JFK and LBJ didn't like each other either, but they teamed up to win the Presidency (some wags suggest LBJ got his revenge on November 22nd, 1963). Second, the flip-flopping issue has receded; there isn't the public outrage there once was. As for the economic issue, Romney has shown, particularly during the Michigan primary campaign, that he is NOT totally insensitive to working class issues. However, the free market made us an economic superpower, and it will take a systemic return to free market principles in order for us to recapture our economic prowess.

But what about the Southern states? A way to make Romney more palatable in the Bible Belt may be to explicitly promise a Cabinet position to an experienced politician who is well-regarded in that area. Mike Huckabee is a possibility, but someone like Sam Brownback might be a better bet. Evangelicals might feel better assured knowing one of their own was there in the inner circle to "checkmate" Romney's Mormonism.

And above all, Mitt Romney has the best name recognition of all the candidates. As an added bonus, he "looks" presidential. John McCain could do a lot worse.


Ted said...

It appears that it’s all down to Alaska Gov Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney, and team Romney fears Palin now has the best shot, so Romney camp is mounting a blogosphere-wide assault via Politico.

The tip-off that Politico is just a “promote Romney” piece is that it mentions EVERY NAME in the next two tiers of Veep prospects EXCEPT SARAH PALIN!!! — even names far more unlikely than Palin (since Romney camp knows Palin is the ONLY ONE who tops — I’ll say tops by far — Romney as McCain’s best pick).

Bottom line, Romney and Politico fear Palin most — as do the Dems and the MSM. (By the way, the Dems and MSM do not fear Romney the most — which says a lot.)

AOL, a main on-line pro-Obama/pro-Dem player, is now carrying the Politico piece promoting Romney buzz.

Clearly AOL wants McCain and the GOP to lose the general elction — hence they gladly promote Romney (no mention of Palin).

Also, CNN had Romney — kind of out of the blue — attacking Obama. Again, CNN, wanting McCain and the GOP to lose, gladly promotes Romney (to attempt to avert the Palin threat).

All the media frenzy which will surround the remarkable Palin “story” — essentially free to McCain — will be worth millions and millions of dollars of coverage and PR (more money than Romney would provide anyway).

Anonymous said...

Mitt Romney? Keep dreaming folks. Just cause a website says so don't make it true. They are just trying to manipulate Obama's VP pick.
Sarah Palin will be the VP choice if McCain wants to win.
McCain/Romney is a double down negative ticket that will lose to Obama for sure.

Deseret Dawg said...

Ted - Interesting analogy. It does seem odd that Palin's name has been completely dropped by Politico when other pundits were mentioning it as recently as YESTERDAY.

However, in reviewing Alaskan reaction, I question whether Palin could be considered in the "first tier". Palin is a fresh and youthful face, and, from what I've heard, is personally a social conservative, but Alaska's three electoral votes don't really strengthen Palin's case.

Then there remains the problem of McCain opposing the opening of ANWR. Could Palin swallow that enough to make common cause with him? That would be a reach.

Ted said...

Desert Dawg, Alaska's small electoral size is irrelevent since Palin's voter base/attraction transcends geography, as does McCain's, Obama's and Hillary's for that matter.

Moreover, Palin has ALREADY expressed REPEATED confidence that McCain will be switching (with her guidance) to favoring ANWR drilling.

And finally, Palin is not mentioned in EITHER TIER (first OR second) of Politico which is the real tip-off that Romney's real adversary for the veepship was Palin (because she's obviously higher than most of the others listed on the two tiers).

Deseret Dawg said...

Ted - One other problem is that this whole discussion might become academic if Governor Palin doesn't really want to be the running mate.

A CNBC interview from June 26th leaves some doubts. Here's the key snippet from the transcript:

Kudlow: Alright Governor, you probably heard Senator McCain waltz his way through that one. Let me just ask you. If he asked you to be his vice-president, would you accept in light of your disagreement, apparently, over ANWR drilling?

Palin: Well I’d like the opportunity to get to change his mind about ANWR, I’ll tell you that. But Larry, I’m gonna give you the same answer that any other potential VP gives you and that is you know, I really enjoy my job here in Alaska as governor. I believe that there’s a lot that Alaska could be and should be doing to contribute to the rest of the U.S. And I think I can do that in my job here in Alaska. And I know that, again, the other potential VPs are saying the same thing that they like where they are today. So I also have to say though that it’s really probably out of the realm of possibility to be tapped for that position, so I don’t even have to worry about it.

Realistically, if she were asked, she probably would not turn it down. What serious candidate would turn down such an opportunity? But she still doesn't sound very interested.

Finally, if McCain could be convinced to open ANWR, he would have already declared in favor. There's no political reason for him to continue opposing it. It will not help him attract votes to continue opposing it. He apparently opposes ANWR out of personal conviction. And at $4.00 per gallon of gas, his personal conviction is costing us money.

Anonymous said...

Cantor is a proven vote getter in Virginia, among Jews and Christians. Key groups McCain needs to win. Cantor is also articulate, young, and a true conservative.

Check him out at:


Ted said...

Clearly Palin's more than interested (but she MUST sound reserved about it, that's standard for prospective/successful Veeps, but boy, you should have her and Fox Radio John Gibson kidding about it the other day bout her as McCain's veep -- she clearly would want the job).

Re Cantor, very very good man, but of course Palin still considerably tops him for Veep choice now. And speaking of Jewish vote, there are some videos and photos of Palin at a synagogue in Anchorage the other day, looking mighty popular!