January 14, 2012

ONLY ONE CHOICE FILLS ALL THE HOLES:

Mitt Romney's Dilemma: Picking a Running Mate if He's the GOP Nominee (Howard Kurtz, Jan 11, 2012, Daily Beast)

If Romney is indeed the GOP nominee, he faces the most important decision of his campaign--not because a running mate will drag him across the finish line, but because the country will judge the way he makes his first presidential-level decision. Traditionally, there are three major factors to consider, although these may be relics of the past.

In the old days, geographic balance was practically a must. But ever since Bill Clinton of Arkansas picked Al Gore of neighboring Tennessee, that seems less important in the media age.

A second consideration is selecting someone who can deliver a crucial state. That may well have worked in the 1960 election, when Lyndon Johnson helped Jack Kennedy carry Texas. But Lloyd Bentsen couldn't do the same for Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry lost North Carolina even with John Edwards on the ticket. The last two Republican nominees abandoned the key-state approach: Dick Cheney's Wyoming and Sarah Palin's Alaska don't count for much in the Electoral College.

The final measure, ideological balance, may still resonate. With Bush-Cheney, McCain-Palin, and Gore-Lieberman, for instance, the winning candidate was trying to make inroads with the other wing of his party.

But an underappreciated virtue, in my view, is stylistic balance. Biden's voluble, back-slapping liberalism provided a counterpoint to Obama's cool, professorial air; George H.W. Bush gave Ronald Reagan entree to the Republican country-club set; the patrician Kerry needed the populist Edwards; even Palin initially brought youth and excitement to the aging warrior McCain.

But the Palin pick, like that of Dan Quayle, underscored a more urgent reality: you have to choose a plausible president, someone who is viewed as being able to take over at a moment's notice. And Romney, the M.B.A., will surely include that on the balance sheet.

So how do some of his potential running mates stack up?

Almost time to start our VP Pick contest, but, realistically, only one choice scores in every one of the following categories:

(1) Plausible presidential successor

(2) Executive experience

(3) Evangelical ties

(4) Appeal to Catholics generally, Latinos in particular

(5) Brings a large swing state with him

(6) Thoroughly vetted by national media

(7) Experience in national campaign

(8) Stylistic contrast to the presidential nominee



Posted by at January 14, 2012 9:00 AM
  

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