After a few weeks off from my favorite thing to post, I've brought back the vice-presidential power rankings. While Romney has not said much about who he plans to name as his vice-president, there has been rampant speculation from journalists, political scientists, and political analysts as to who he might name. I have my own speculation and I'll post who I think the leading contenders are, yet again. We're listing the top 5, this time.
1. Rob Portman: Portman was the initial favorite to get the nod because of his hearly support for Romney, including running fundraisers while Romney was trying to sew up the Republican presidential nomination in Ohio. Portman is a current senator from Ohio who also served in foreign policy posts for former president George W. Bush. Portman also fits the qualification for being a pro-life candidate. While Portman is not seen as a particularly sexy name for the vice-presidential nomination, he is someone who shores up Romney's foreign policy ideas, also someone who is a hard-worker, and is by all accounts, a no-nonsense individual. As an added bonus, Portman is from the critical swing state of Ohio. While the VP's home state effects is generally overstated, if there is a favorable candidate, the vice-president might be able to make up around 2% in the state. With recent polls showing that Romney is behind Obama in Ohio, the next few months will be critical for Romney to try and get the state to about a 1-2% margin and hope for the best with Portman cutting the rest of the margin. Winning Ohio will be critical for the Romney campaign, if he wants to win the presidential election. It's certainly possible for Romney to win the election without Ohio, but it gets more difficult, meaning Romney would have to win a number of swing states that are seen to be anywhere from leaning Obama to likely Obama.
2. Tim Pawlenty: Becoming the favorite to among many journalists and writers to get the VP nomination because of his suddenly close friendship with Mitt Romney. We'll note yet again, it's historically very rare for two governors to make up a presidential ticket. That certainly doesn't make it impossible but there's a lack of historical precedent to fall back on. Pawlenty is a fire-brand in the Joe Biden mold of vice-presidents. Pawlenty would certainly bring some excitement to the Republican base and might be allowed to attack the Obama administration publicly while serving as a Romney surrogate. What else does Pawlenty bring to the table? Minnesota primarily votes Democrat for their president. But Obama might be slipping there, as well. A new poll put out shows that Obama only has a six point lead in the state, marking the first time that he is not ahead by double digits. Obama still has a 88% chance of winning the state, according to Nate Silver, New York Times blogger extraordinaire. Silver also notes that Minnesota is similar to Wisconsin demographically and politically. He notes that it is likely that those twenty electoral votes will move in tandem in this election. Additional resources will be brought in by both parties to get more polling there, as it is not polled very heavily and is generally ignored by pollsters. Republicans might be wary of investing too much in Minnesota as it failed in 2008 but naming Pawlenty as the vice-president after putting significant resources in there already for polling information will show that the Romney campaign means business. If Romney can bring the deficit down to 1-2%, Pawlenty might be the game changer as both a firebrand and bringing multiple states to the table. I'll also note that polls are showing that Michigan is also showing a very close race and it's possible that Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan move as a trio in this election. Michigan differs politically and demographically from Minnesota and Wisconsin, but Romney might be able to close the gap in Michigan, too, if the effects of a birth state are real. By naming Pawlenty, this might be what Romney imagines.
3. Marco Rubio: Rubio has been the person I thought was the favorite since Romney first won the Republican presidential nomination but I'm no longer convinced that he's the guy. Unless, he's chosen, then ignore this paragraph. Rubio is young, is a member of multiple Senate committees for foreign policy, one of the most outspoken critics of immigration policy, brings diversity to the ballot (it's what Romney's adviser said they would be looking for), and is from a key battleground state (Florida). Romney has already been critical of Obama's immigration policy and having Rubio there to be another critic would certainly sound a little bit better. Here's why I no longer believe Rubio is the favorite (presented in a numbered argument because that's more fun):
1. Rubio is young and might be considered inexperienced. What the Romney campaign has been mainly focusing on is Obama's lack of experience as a senator and is a bumbling buffoon as a president. Rubio was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and has only been a senator for two years. Romney is already going to be criticized for not being ready to be President, the worst thing he could do is name a younger person to be his running mate.
2. Rubio might not stay on script. Romney's campaign is going to be focusing on limiting the number of gaffes and inconsistencies (see above). Rubio might not agree with Romney on every issue particularly foreign policy and immigration reform.
3. This might hurt Rubio politically. If the Romney/Rubio ticket doesn't do well, it seems likely that the blame will be placed on someone. It could easily be placed on Rubio because Obama is running in such a difficult economic environment. I don't want to speak for Rubio but he seems like the type of person who aspires to run for president or for a higher office, still. Being the vice-presidential nomination in a losing campaign may not help.
4. Alliterative presidential campaigns lack a historical precedent.
4. Bobby Jindal: he's apparently becoming quite chummy with Romney. He brings diversity to the presidential campaign on the Republican side, as well. He's also very young. He's the governor of Louisiana and so that lacks the precedent. Additionally, Jindai does not bring a swing state to the table so it doesn't help Romney there. Jindal, I think, is a favorite for the 2016 presidential nomination if Romney loses. Jindal has been talked about in Republican circles for years, giving his reaction to Obama's State of the Union address, among others. Back then, I assumed that he was the Republican answer to Obama. Jindal has been praised by many for how he handled Louisiana after their natural disasters and so his age might not be a factor because of how much he has been praised. I think he makes the least amount of sense among the top 5 for the vice-president ticket, so of course, he will be named.
5. Paul Ryan: I don't think Romney goes down this route, either, but I would like to mention him briefly. Ryan is most famous for proposing a radical budget plan that Democrats mischaracterized as ending Medicare. If Romney is going to run on the idea that the budget is going to be one of his biggest issues, it would make sense to name Ryan. Ryan, who is the chair of the Budget Committe in the House, also is a member of the subcommittee on Health and Means, a former economic policy analyst, and a former speechwriter would be an interesting combination to run with Romney. But Ryan seems very young, he is only 42, even though he has been in Congress since 1998. Ryan brings the problem of not necessarily wanting to stay on script with the Romney campaign and might not necessarily agree with Romney on every issue. He is also an easy target for Democrats attacking him about his budget plan, even if they're in the wrong. More likely, if Romney wins, you might see Romney float out Ryan's name for a position similar to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Honorable mentions: Kelly Ayotte (too young, might not be able to handle the scrutiny of a national campaign, might be unfairly compared to Sarah Palin, from the Northeast, not huge name recognition), Michele Bachmann (won't bring too many moderates or undecideds to the table, might be too conservative, prone to gaffes, not exactly a Republican favorite fter her latest remarks about the Islamist takeover in the State Department), Scott Walker (a governor, young, inexperienced, have enough problem with union voting for Republicans), Rick Santorum (too religious for Romney, be hard to step away from the attacks he made on Romney, won't bring moderates), Rick Perry (governor, prone to gaffes, attacked Romney, etc.), Rand Paul (young, might not stay on script, questions about racist comments), Jim DeMint (inexperienced, won't bring moderates, no battleground state), Jeb Bush (doesn't seem interested, doesn't seem to like Romney that much, too much comparisons to the George W. administration, and focuses on other things, now), Donal Trump (birther, inexperienced, can you imagine the jokes?), Jon Huntsman (too many questions about their religion, not a true conservative on social issues, disagrees with Romney on many things).
I hope I covered most of them.