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

John Y. Brown, III’s Response

[Click here to follow the full debate thread]

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.

As for other possibilities: Marco Rubio is still not ready for much more than serving as a republican flavor of the month for a VP candidate. He needs time, life experience, and gravitas before he’s ready for presidential politics. Condi Rice and Bobby Jindal are brilliant and capable individuals and would not be out of place as a VP candidate. But the primary rationale for each of them seems to be their minority status. First, that’s not really fair to either Rice or Jindal.

But more important, I think that strategy could backfire for the GOP. Believing that the VP “must” be a minority for the Romney ticket to win is not competing from a place of strength. It won’t energize the base nor win over many centrist democrats. It’s over-thinking and under-feeling the VP decision. And republicans are best when they focus on the visceral rather than the cerebral when forming presidential campaign strategies.


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