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.
- 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.