Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Mitt Romney’s VP pick won’t be a game-changer

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This is the point where I admit that despite what I thought would happen in the 2012 GOP presidential nominating process, Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president. I thought for certain that the teabaggers would rally around one candidate who would gain the momentum for the nomination.

Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain spoke their language better than Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, but neither candidate should sustain those numbers. If Santorum is right about this being 1976 in an analogy, then 1980 would bring the teabagger messiah, but it won’t be Rick Santorum.

The feeling that Romney would win the nomination all along was that this fit the Republican pattern of picking the second place finisher of a previous campaign (Romney, John McCain). Republicans don’t like dragged out fights, but thanks to Michael Steele, they got one in 2012.

So if Romney loses in 2012, why wouldn’t Santorum be the presumptive nominee? No one thought Jack Kemp would be the front-runner for 2000. The pattern only works in elections where a Democratic politician has been president 0 or 4 years. After Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton in 1996, the Republican field became wide open. Also, several Republicans sat out 1996 as they did in 2012, waiting four more years for a run.

2016 looks much better for GOP candidates: outside of VP Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, neither of which is expected to run, the Dems list is pretty small. Sen. Mark Warner (VA) and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley lead a small, yet unknown list.

So if Santorum has little shot at the 2016 nomination, why not accept Romney’s VP pick if Romney makes that choice?

Every VP pick wants to be Al Gore in 1992 not Jack Kemp in 1996. You want to be on the ticket if you think your “team” will win.

If Romney were to make the pick tomorrow, Marco Rubio might be at the top of the list. If Rubio wants a political future beyond 2012, he might not take the VP offer. Selecting a relative unknown is risky for the presidential nominee, but if you are the relatively unknown, a VP run shapes what the country thinks of you. If you don’t believe us, ask Sarah Palin.

Hiding Palin away from the time of the initial welcoming speech on Friday to the convention speech on Wednesday proved to be a fatal mistake to the campaign … and Palin. When others define you, getting back the narrative is extremely difficult.

Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Mitch Daniels, Nikki Haley, and countless other potential future GOP presidential candidates need to introduce themselves to the American public on their own terms. Sarah Palin would have been wise to take that advice.

Rubio has a story, and that is pretty much all he has. Believe it or not, Palin had a really good story before the world discovered her.

As we’ve noted, Romney would be the 4th oldest person to be inaugurated if he wins in November. He is only 7 years younger than McCain was on Inauguration Day 2009. A safe choice, someone who is known, would suit Romney’s style and not scare Republicans fearful of another “Sarah Palin.”

We won’t know for months who Romney’s VP pick will be, but the one thing for certain, that person won’t be a “game changer.”


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