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And now the winner of Romney's Veepstakes is?

romneyThe Mitt Romney campaign recently unveiled a Mitt’s VP app for smartphones.  By downloading the app, one has been assured that they will be the first to know whom the Republican nominee for president will select as his running mate.

While not well versed in smartphones or their applications, I don’t understand why it’s necessary to produce a computer program for something that could just as well be delivered as a text or e-mail. 

 

 

But I downloaded the app anyway, as much to see how it worked as to be “in the know”, though I suspect Jon Stewart probably has it right that the announcement will be informally announced via the traditional press leak and not through this new-fangled computer widget.

Team Romney has gotten a lot of mileage out of hinting both his running mate-to-be-named-later’s identity and when he or she would be revealed. 

Liberal commentators have cynically mused that the public veep hinting is a ploy to bail the Republican candidate out of bad news cycles. 

And they’re probably right. 

All of the talk by top aides of an impending announcement has obviously been disingenuous.  There was never a chance of Romney doing so prior to the Olympics and I doubt he will unveil his selection until the eve of the GOP convention. 

Which means another two weeks of “any day now” talk by staffers whispering “veep”.

That said, I’m going to predict who I think will be joining the GOP ticket…after briefly explaining why others won’t be picked.

Condi Rice’s name began to surface as a possible running mate shortly after her presentation at a retreat Romney held with some of his top supporters.  Though the former secretary of state would bring what journalists like to call “gravitas” to the ticket (gravitas being the Latin word for what every Republican hack claimed John McCain’s veep pick lacked), I don’t think Romney wants to turn the 2012 presidential race into a trial about the invasion of Iraq. 

The odds on favorite for the second slot on the Republican ticket is Ohio US Senator Rob Portman.  He’s competent, from an important state, an early Romney backer and bland.  Seems perfect for a “company man” like Mitt.  Portman also served as an official in George W. Bush’s White House.

Picking someone with a strong lineage to the preceding administration would play right into the Democratic spin machine’s “back to the future” narrative in an attempt to make 2012 a referendum on W and not O.  Not happening.

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has a birth certificate that says he was born in the US.  Beyond proof that he is constitutionally qualified for the office, the unfortunately self-titled “T-Paw” doesn’t bring anything else to the ticket, including the electoral votes where he never received a majority vote in a statewide election. 

Virginia governor Bob McDonnell was looking like the probable pick…until his name made it back into the news cycle as such, which tells me he won’t get it.  I’m a big believer in that the more heralded the name, the less likely the selection.  McDonnell’s presence on the ticket would do more to help Mitt carry Virginia than Portman’s addition would in Ohio.  Of the vanilla veep contenders (including South Dakota US Senator John Thune) considered, McDonnell’s the more likely.

Though Romney has been characterized as “risk adverse” (a curious assessment since he is an investor by profession), I do believe the former Massachusetts governor is cognizant that the American electorate is craving for something more than two slices of white-bread. 

There’s zero chance that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is getting tapped, so you can shelve the Laurel/Hardy 2012 t-shirts.

The same goes for popular Florida US Senator Marco Rubio.  The 2016 favorite has been conspiring with the 2012 nominee to play down such talk to avoid deflating enthusiasm when the Cuban-American is not picked.  Expect Rubio to make some kind of statement soon removing himself from consideration.

Two names you will hear a lot about are Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and New Mexico governor Susana Martinez. 

Martinez would be the most dynamic selection if only because of the possibilities of bringing in Hispanic voters, particularly in Martinez’s homestate and in the swing states of Nevada and Colorado. 

Martinez’s biggest liability is that she has been governor for less than two years. 

And as tempting as breaking into the all-important Hispanic bloc is for Team Romney, the potential for the media and their Democratic cohorts to unjustly frame her as “Palina” will give them pause. 

If I were the nominee, I would choose Martinez in a heartbeat and having the opposition’s playbook from 2008 in hand, simply anticipate and counter their moves. 

Though Jindal doesn’t bring to the table what Martinez could deliver, the selection of the son of Indian-American immigrants by Romney would represent a major image tack for the GOP. 

Young, highly educated, exuding mastery of policy (particularly on health care), Jindal would be the conservative equivalent of a hyperactive Al Gore. 

Jindal would be both a safe choice and something different.

But at the end of the day, I believe Jindal will have the distinction of being “first runner up” in the veepstakes pageant.

I predict that Romney will ask New Hampshire US Senator Kelly Ayotte to join him on the Republican ticket.

Though not a TEA Party conservative, Ayotte is conservative enough and comes from a state that could very well provide the Republicans the margin of victory in the electoral college. 

In 2000, the Granite State proved to be just as important as Florida. 

Had New Hampshire went to Gore, all the pregnant chads in the Sunshine State would not have mattered.

Ayotte has remained as one of the lower profile potential vice-presidential candidates that have been publicly circulated as potential running mates by Team Romney.  And though her selection would be a surprise, unlike McCain’s Palin shock pick, Ayotte would not be a spontaneous choice. 

The one-time New Hampshire attorney general and Roman Catholic has been screened and tested by Romney’s operation.  There will be no repeat of the McCain campaign’s clumsy Palin roll-out or push by aides to rush her out for interviews with reporters with whom the operatives had personal (if not professional) connections.

And in contrast to the McCain campaign, Romney’s folks have never confused the media as their friends. 

Ayotte helps defuse the Democrats’ “Republican war on women” spiel while taking the fight to their turf in the north while helping Romney close the deal in a state that could tip the balances again.  And if that’s all Ayotte accomplishes as a vice-presidential candidate, then she would have done much good.

So when the Mitt VP app magically comes to life the weekend before the Republican National Convention, I predict the junior senator from New Hampshire’s smiling image to pop up.

 

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Mike Bayham posts his weekly political blog at www.mikebayham.com.  He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

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