Praise for Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell by Mitt Romney during a Wednesday campaign stop in Virginia, has many speculating that if nominated President, he will tap McDonnell as his Vice presidential running mate.
Speaking at Virginia’s Fairfax County Republican headquarters, Romney called McDonnell one of the “great leaders of the Republican Party.” He added, “He’s a terrific governor doing a great job here in Virginia.” and stated “I say nice things about Governor McDonnell every time I have a chance”.
The remarks do not necessarily indicate that Romney is ready to pick McDonnell if he wins the G.O.P. presidential nomination. What it does mean is that Romney is smart enough to appeal to Virginians by agreeing with them. Governor McDonnell receives extraordinarily high approval from Virginia voters and to do anything other align himself with McDonnell would quite frankly, be a sign of severe brain damage.
Governor McDonnell is doing a fine job in Virginia and a look at his near perfect conservative record would make one believe that he might be a better Republican presidential candidate than those now running. However, even though Barack Obama won Virginia in 2008, that is unlikely to be repeated. Virginia is normally a reliably Republican state when it comes to presidential politics, and is likely to be that way in 2012 regardless of who the G.O.P. nominee is. So for electoral purposes, McDonnell is not going to be needed to deliver Virginia’s electoral college vote to the Republican presidential ticket.
For the purpose of having an edge in the electoral college, Republicans may want to look at more truly competitive swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada or even, to a lesser extent, Florida, where the obvious choice is Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
No matter what though, Governor McDonnell will be and deserves to be on everyone’s short list. Which is why there should not be too much read into Romney’s remarks in Virginia about their popular Governor. The only remarks about McDonnell that should raise eyebrows would be negative ones. Had Romney stood in the headquarters of one of Virginia’s county Republican headquarters and said of their popular Governor something like “Bob McDonnell is okay, but I can take him or leave him”, that would deserve attention.
Meanwhile, I remain reluctant to discuss vice presidential contenders until we know for sure who the Republican presidential nominee will be. However I will say that my initial instincts tell me that if Romney is the nominee, Bob McDonnell is not his most likely choice. As I previously pointed out, Virginia should easily go Republican in the presidential election no matter who the G.O.P. nominee is. Add to that the imagery of Romney and McDonnell together and what you have is a ticket that looks almost too perfect. Kind of like the cake topper of gay wedding cake.
Personally I believe that when it comes to Romney, he is going to have to go with a conservative but unconventional running mate.
So far Romney is tied too closely to the establishment and his reluctance to be bold in his policy choices leaves the selection of a running mate to be one of the few opportunities to step out of the establishment mold. All things considered, I can see Romney picking someone like South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley or even more likely than her, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. Like Marco Rubio, she is conservative, strongly appreciated in the TEA movement, from an important swing state and offers the opportunity to make inroads into the increasingly important and influential Hispanic vote.
Another bold choice could be Herman Cain. His strong TEA movement appeal and anti-career politician profile will make him attractive on an ticket, and helps Romney shore up his conservative credentials.
Then there is a real wildcard choice for Romney……… former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee may have very well cost Romney the nomination in 2008 and there is undoubtedly still some bad blood between the two men. But they have seemingly warmed up to one another since 2008. Huckabee even had Mitt Romney on his weekly Fox News program.
Picking Huckabee could be a way for Romney to inject new blood and new life in to what will be a news weary electorate by the time the Republican National Convention is held in late August of next year. Adding Huckabee to the ticket will also appeal to the evangelicals that Romney really needs to appeal to and overcome their prejudices toward his Mormon faith. As an ordained Southern Baptist minister, Huckabee could go a long way in helping Romney among the evangelical flocks that will be important to a Republican victory. Mike Huckabee does have some luggage of his own, but when it comes to Mitt, Huckabee would be more compensation than burden.
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