The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP — The RP Nation Weighs In

We’ve had a busy day debating the merits of the various men and women who’ve been discussed as potential nominees by the GOP for Vice President.

Get a degree in Journalism and learn the dying art of objectivity with these online college classes.

Click here to follow the full debate thread.

Our readers, the RP Nation, had a lot to say about this controversy — we’ve received dozens of emails and comments.  We list some of the better responses below:

Jonathan, you claim to be bi-partisan politically, but come near (but just this side of civil) to speak with a hint of animosity about the University of Louisville.  WATCH IT!!!!!   I’VE GOT MY EYES ON YOU.

Love, M.A, Louisville, KY

 

As a Saturday Night Live fan, I like Michelle Bachman or a comeback by Sarah, who should have a lot to say about reproductive health.

C.U., Hartford, CT

 

I agree with Portman who can swing Ohio. Yes, Rubio brings Florida and more of the Hispanic vote. I love Huckabee, but Arkansas is tiny and he is old news. Portman can legitimately run on a balanced budget platform, more so than anyone else.

S.C., Miami, FL

 

How about Kentucky’s head basketball coach, John Calipari?

B.M., New York, NY

 

Nope, it is Rubio.

T.W., Indianapolis, IN

 

I will be traveling on business through Wednesday morning, March 28th, with only limited access to email. If you need help immediately, please contact [Name omitted]. I look forward to being in touch as soon as possible.

D.H., Washington, DC

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The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP — The RP Nation Weighs In

The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: The RPs Disintegrate into Frenzy

Jimmy Dahroug Responds

[Click here to follow the full debate thread]

Rod,
 
Your busy week must have taken its toll. Jason Grill recommended Romney pick the guy in the Dos Equis commercials 😉
 
I think you were referring to my post. Thanks!
 
===================
 
John Y. Brown, III Responds
 
But what would the most interesting man in the world be doing running as a VP candidate?

It seems to go against his brand. Although it would be a brilliant and compelling choice.

 

========================

 

David Host Responds

“I don’t often run for powerless offices where I wait for someone else to die – but when I do . . .”

The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: Rod Jetton Serves

Rod Jetton’s Response

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It’s been a busy weekend and I have enjoyed reading the comments but Grill [sic] is 100% right.

It’s Rubio for all the reasons Jason outlined.

He may refuse it, but I doubt it. Romney and “country” need, and he will accept.

If gas prices stay high, Obama will be in trouble. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, gas prices are the one issue that touches all demographics.

They also blame the Guy in charge.

In 2006 it was Bush but today its Obama.

The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: Jimmy Dahroug Antes Up

Jimmy Dahroug’s Response

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You all raise some great points and I think Christie, Condi, and Bobby Jindal all have promise.

BUT it’s Rubio.

Here are the reasons that guide my thinking:

1. Top Notch Political Athlete

I may not share Rubio’s ideological beliefs, but I recognize his abilities a political athlete. Specifically, Rubio is a dynamic speaker. Don’t discount the importance of this skill – especially in the youtube/internet era.

It was Barack Obama’s dynamic speech at the 2004 Democratic convention that put him on the map for President – before he was even elected to the U.S. Senate. Although Rubio began his campaign for the U.S. Senate as the underdog in polls and funding to Charlie Crist, Rubio’s team harnessed his speaking ability to level the playing field and ultimately force Crist out of the Republican party.  

While Rubio’s ability as a speaker was not the only factor in that campaign, it played a critical role and it is something the Romney campaign should consider as a potential asset.

As a Democrat, it’s Rubio’s speaking ability that concerns me most. It seems distant after a term as President, but in the 2006 midterm elections candidates in swing states were begging then-Senator Obama to campaign for them.  I hate to admit it, but Rubio has similar appeal. He’s able to speak about his conservative values in a way that can persuade independents and swing state voters.  

2. Rubio Shores up Romney’s Weaknesses

Rubio’s almost the exact opposite of Romney. He stands his ground as a pretty consistent conservative who seeks to persuade, rather than pander. 

Remember Charlie Crist? Crist had the same knock on him as Romney – a compulsive panderer with little conviction or loyalty. Part of Rubio’s appeal in that race was because he drew such a stark contrast to Crist.  Interestingly enough, the same contrast Rubio draws to Romney may be just what the Romney campaign needs.

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The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: Jimmy Dahroug Antes Up

The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: John Y. Brown III Jousts

John Y. Brown, III’s Response

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Discussing VP picks is kind of like selecting your lunch for a business meeting the day before. You want to get excited about it but it’s difficult.

I had assumed Santorum would be the natural pick because it seems to work on paper even though it’s entirely predictable, lacks imagination or boldness and likely won’t work. Because that seems to be Romney’s MO for decision making.

And since I can’t remember a republican primary where the party faithful have strained harder to avoid a nominee, it’s hard to have the confidence to start treating Mitt as the heir apparent nominee for speculative VP purposes. But it appears to be time. At least mathematically.

I like Mark Nickolas’ pick a lot. Mike Huckabee would be to Mitt Romney everything Sarah Palin was supposed to be to John McCain but without the downside. And, unlike Palin, Huckabee wouldn’t appear to be a Hail Mary choice. Huckabee would energize the base, especially Evangelicals. But his appeal is much broader than merely Evangelicals. And perhaps the most important advantage Huckabee brings, as Mark Nickolas stated, is the “likeability” factor, something Romney lacks (and no presidential candidate these days can afford to be without).

Drilling a little deeper, it’s not that Romney is “disliked.” I just feel people are neutral toward him as a candidate on a personal level, which can be the death knell for a presidential candidate. Love or hate the candidate, but don’t be indifferent to him or her personally. Romney’s besetting sin is an inability to connect personally with voters. Huckabee’s greatest gift is the ability to connect with about anyone who shows up in his orbit.

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The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: John Y. Brown III Jousts

The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: Jeff Smith Salutes

Jeff Smith’s Response

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OK, lots to comment on. I’ll go in order.

Agree with Jonathan et al that, left to his own devices, Romney would pick Portman. Nothing screams competence, or boring white guy, louder. The problem is that Romney’s main thrust will be to run against big government/trillion-dollar deficits, and tapping the GWB OMB guy, as Mark notes, isn’t the best way to drive that message. More importantly, since Romney has amply demonstrated over the last 6 years that he’ll do or say absolutely anything to win, I think he’ll listen when his advisers counsel him that Portman doesn’t bring enough pizzazz or oomph to the ticket. As for Jonathan’s claim that Portman is “beloved by the base,” he’s right if we’re talking about the base, circa-1965. This is not your grandfather’s Republican party. It’s not even your big brother’s.

Agree with Mark that Huckabee would be a great pick and would attract the evangelicals who are approximately as excited about Mitt as they would be about a 20-mile barefoot walk across hot coals to get a colonoscopy. Disagree with Mark that a Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe pick is Mitt’s best chance. I think it’s his best chance to spark a third-party style rebellion on his right flank that he can’t contain which could distract him throughout the fall and cripple his chances.

Agree with John Johnson that Nikki Haley has an intriguing profile. Many Americans will also be intrigued when they read about her past controversies, which you can do by simply Googling “Nikki Haley” and seeing what the first suggestion is. Based on the first-hand, published accounts of a couple prominent South Carolina Republican politicos, her exploits could make another Southern Governor, 1992-era Bill Clinton, look like a piker in comparison.

Agree w/ Ron that Allen West has an interesting profile but the last thing gaffe-plagued Mitt needs right now is a loose cannon. Too much of a wildcard.

Agree w/ Artur that Mitt needs to go long. And Condi Rice is sure intriguing on a lot of levels. Disagree that her open pro-choice stance would be a “mini-furor” that would quickly go away. Since the base doesn’t trust that former Planned Parenthood donor Romney is truly pro-life, I can’t imagine them swallowing a pro-choicer as the #2. I think she creates lingering base problems throughout the fall.

Rubio won’t survive a vetting, I don’t think. Not b/c of the Mormon thing or even the possible contradictions in his family narrative, but b/c of his money-grubbing/sketchiness as FL House Speaker and on the way there. Lots of stories bubbling up from friends of mine who served with him in the Leg down there.

I wouldn’t be so quick to rule out Jindal or Martinez, though Romney will surely vet them far more rigorously than Palin was vetted. Martinez lets him check a lot of boxes and potentially helps in at least three swing states, NM, CO, and FL. I’d be interested to see what the vetting on her turns up, and no doubt so will Romney.

I’ve heard Jindal speak twice and was extremely impressed. Since he’s been in public life basically his whole adulthood w/o a whiff of scandal – he ran Louisiana’s hospital system at age 25 (!) – I actually think he may be able to survive a vetting. That’s one upside of having outsized ambitions from a young age: he seems to have lived a very upstanding life. And Mitt would love Jindal’s Bain-esque discipline and “Mr. Fix-It” style. A guy who competently managed 40 percent of a mid-sized state’s budget at age 25 is a Romney wet dream. Also I think Jindal could energize the base and we know Tea Partiers love to be able to say “Look! I’m not racist!” (See, e.g., Herman Cain/Allen West.) Last, he could tap into an awful lot of presently untapped Indian-American donations.

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The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: Jeff Smith Salutes

The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: Jason Grill Spirals

Jason Grill’s Response

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First choice for Mitt Romney’s VP should be the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World.”

This move would balance out the ticket.

If he is unavailable for VP…I would suggest Mitt’s people try to schedule a weekend trip with him pronto.

After this, I believe Romney should pick a woman as his VP. If he does do this, I wouldn’t be surprised whatsoever if President Obama makes a call to Hillary.

The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: David Host Bats

David Host’s Response

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The continued evolution of the race and the overall direction of the economy seem likely to guide Romney’s choice.  I agree with Jonathan that Portman is a safe, experienced choice whom Romney would choose if left to his own devices.  The question remains, will Romney have enough confidence to buck his advisers and choose someone who doesn’t “excite the base” or offer some demographic appeal?  Jonathan makes a particularly salient point regarding the Romney campaign’s penchant – thus far – for steadily plodding its way forward while other campaigns fall by the wayside.  Romney will face intensifying pressure, however, to choose someone “exciting.”  It’s important to recall that before the financial collapse in September 2008, McCain’s choice of Palin looked like a master stroke.  He had taken the lead in the race, and polling data exists that had he opposed TARP, he would have been President (whether that would have been the right choice is another issue entirely).

Comparing the state of the McCain campaign before and after the 2008 Republican Convention, I still think the Palin selection was a strong net positive for the ticket (at least politically).  In fact, that example provides the strongest support for those who argue for a base-focused VP selection.  The challenge is finding someone like Palin who has been vetted on the national level and who possesses the gravitas and experience that she did not have.  [As Mark Nickolas suggested,] Mike Huckabee does seem to fit this description.  Yet, I perceive two obstacles to his selection, even if he were otherwise willing: 1) during the 2008 primaries, Huckabee made remarks that were perceived as anti-Mormon; while he has studiously avoided repeating that mistake while complimenting Romney during this cycle, I suspect that Romney has a long memory in this regard; and 2) Huckabee’s record on spending and related issues is perceived as decidedly unconservative and his selection could ultimately cause problems with the Tea Partiers.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal would bring both diversity and decidedly conservative credentials to the ticket.  Perhaps even more important, he has gained a reputation for competence in crisis -his performance both before and after Hurricane Gustav in 2008 earned bipartisan plaudits (particularly as compared to Katrina) and his response to the BP disaster also appears to have been solid.  His experience positions him as credible critic of the current Administrations’ energy policy – a particularly critical asset if gas prices continue to rise.  

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The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: David Host Bats

The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: Artur Davis Volleys

Artur Davis’ Response

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Mitt Romney won’t be the first candidate confronted with the choice between “going safe” or “going long” in picking a VP. The problem for the imaginative among us is that the dramatic option tends to boomerang badly–think not just Palin, but Quayle in 88, who as laughable as it sounds to our ears, was initially viewed by the Bush team as a charismatic, fresh alternative; or Ferraro in 84, whose finances almost caused her to be replaced; or even the Reagan flirtation with picking Gerald Ford in 80, a forced marriage that might have made Reagan look quite dependent.

A campaign that has painted so carefully within the lines as Romney’s won’t risk joining that list, which means that Susanna Martinez, Bobby Jindal, and Marco Rubio need not apply. Not one of them, for all of their genuine talents, has ever been examined by the national press or subjected to a full background scrub–in fact, the one who has gotten some hint of scrutiny, Rubio, has already been tarnished by it. The risk aversion in the Romney camp will probably lead them to Rob Portman, a survivor of two federal confirmation processes and a politician from a state that Republicans have to have. As for the notion that he doesn’t help that much in Ohio, he certainly can’t hurt.

I will add one wishful note that actually combines the safe and the dramatic. Her name is Condoleeza Rice, a possibility who has endured the glare of ten years of attention, who exudes gravitas on an issue that will matter more this fall than we think today–defense cuts–and who has a record of seriousness on the other sleeper issue, the erosion of public education. Did I also mention that she ends in one fell swoop the narrative that this race is one between an inclusive, multicultural future and a lurch back to a whiter, duller past?

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The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: Artur Davis Volleys

The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: Ron Granieri Pliés

Ron Granieri’s Response

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This is a fascinating question. Although I am not sanguine about Romney’s chances no matter who he picks, his choice will help shape the future of the GOP, just as the choice of Sarah Palin has, for better or worse, helped shape the debate within the GOP since 2008.
With that in mind, I will say two things:
1. If Mitt picks another white guy, no matter his ideological or geographical advantages, he loses. Period. it is not tokenism, but simple recognition of the demographics of the electorate and the hole that the primary discussions have dug for the party that leads me to that conclusion.
2, He also needs to shore up his right. Even his worst enemy knows that. He could also use someone with a lot more zip to deliver attacks.
So, I do not make predictions , but I think Allen West should stay by the phone.

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