The RPs Debate the 2012 GOP VP: David Host Bats

David Host’s Response

[Click here to follow the full debate thread]

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.  
Admittedly, Jindal’s performance in providing the Republican response to President Obama’s first address to Congress was widely panned, but it seems as though sufficient time has passed for that memory to fade (look no further than Bill Clinton’s “in closing” disaster at the 1998 Democratic Convention for an instructive example regarding how much can change in four years).
I agree [with Artur Davis] that selecting Condoleeza Rice would demonstrate a seriousness of purpose on Romney’s part; one which he demonstrated early in the process but seemed to jettison when the Gingrich challenge emerged.  I also concur that Rubio and Martinez are non-starters, due to their short tenures in office, if nothing else.  Yet – as I state above, Bobby Jindal has been subjected to at least some degree of national scrutiny.  Certainly, he has not endured the full-scale vetting process that one undergoes as part of a national ticket, but he his national exposure has been significantly greater than Quayle, Ferraro, or Palin.


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