May 29, 2012

AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES, BUT ONLY ONE FITS THAT BILL:

The right running mate for Romney (Michael Gerson, 5/29/12, Washington Post)

How should Romney make his choice? Political science offers some guidance. There is little evidence that choosing a running mate to gain advantage in his or her home state or region makes any difference. The contrast between the presidential candidates overwhelms local pride in a prospective vice president's voting address. But the choice of a running mate seems to influence public perceptions of the presidential candidate himself. It is one element of a diffuse public judgment on presidential leadership.

Another consideration is difficult for political scientists to quantify: the quality of vice presidential skills. This skill set is specific, peculiar and limited -- like being the best carver of butter sculptures in the world. It involves relentless attacks on the opposing party's presidential nominee and effective advocacy of a policy agenda that isn't your own. It is simultaneously pit bull and lap dog.

I'm not sure anyone would be flattered by hearing, "You have such wonderful vice presidential skills." But they can be important. A presidential campaign is a series of messaging efforts, like drives in a football game. A vice presidential candidate can gain or lose ground.

By this standard, one Republican vice presidential prospect stands out. Chris Christie may have the aspect of William Howard Taft, but he has the manner of Teddy Roosevelt -- tough, tenacious, tireless. Christie is naturally and constantly on the offensive.

Alternatively, Mitt could take Jeb and run on his agenda, having none of his own.
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Posted by at May 29, 2012 5:39 AM
  

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