The VP Matrix

Excitement continues to brew about who Mitt Romney might choose as his Vice President.  Today a story hit the news circulation that Marco Rubio is not being vetted, but Tim Pawlenty is being given serious consideration.  Romney found himself on the defensive this evening.  But before you get too excited about a Marco Rubio candidacy, or too upset about it, you may want to take a breather and consider who Romney is and what kind of campaign he is running.  Flash and splash are not the orders of the day.

Mitt Romney’s campaign need do no more than promise a stronger economy and let Obama continue to create a weaker economy.  In fact, Mitt Romney’s tour through small town USA promoting the private sector and values of competition is exactly where he needs to be.  Obama is spouting a controversy mixed with a gaffe every day.  Why jump in front of a train wreck?  Romney’s VP choice will be about as blockbuster as a sandwich from a WaWa vending machine.

Get out your VP scorecards and consider the following:

Mitt’s VP choice will not be a fresh face.

Mitt Romney is not looking for a candidate with little national experience.  Nor is he looking for a candidate who everyone on the far right loves.  Romney doesn’t need a shot of adrenaline or steroids.  The last thing he needs is someone who is going to distract from the national disaster of the Obama Presidency.  Romney does not need a divisive TEA party figure.  He certainly doesn’t need someone who could be perceived as inexperienced.  If Romney picks a veteran, the media will be cautious about trying to embarrass them as a rookie.  But media types smell blood in the water when there is fresh meat.  Even a studied, prepared candidate might not be able to field a trick question like “do you support the Bush doctrine”.  However, a veteran is less likely to be asked that question.

Obama’s inexperience took a back seat in the media when McCain brought in Palin

This is bad for Allen West, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Susana Martinez, Scott Walker, and Paul Ryan.  Could be good for Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, Jeb Bush, Condi Rice, or Rudy Guiliani.

Mitt’s VP choice will not be old and tired.

The death knell for a Republican candidacy, fair or not, is being old and grey.  Nothing plays into stereotypes of Republicans more than an old, grey haired, slow talking wrinkly man.  While Romney doesn’t need a shot in the arm, he also doesn’t need something contributing to the stereotypes more than he does already.  Right now Romney is Reaganesque in his looks and style.  But an older veteran running mate would turn his campaign into the old rich white people’s ticket.  Again, it may not be fair or right, but don’t expect a VP over 55 years old.

Don’t expect Newt Gingrich, Fred Thompson, or Rob Portman.  Could be good for Bobby McDonnell, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie

Jack Kemp and Bob Dole combined had nearly two centuries of experience

Mitt’s VP choice may not be female or minority.

There is this idea that the only way to defeat Barack Obama is by running a female or minority VP candidate.  Aside from that strategy failing miserably with Sarah Palin, the problem is that Republicans pay far less attention to race and gender than Democrats do, and Democrats virulently hate conservative women and minorities.  We have seen in recent years just how much visible hatred has been directed toward Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, Allen West, Nikki Haley, Michelle Bachmann, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, etc.  There is a clear desire on the left for female and minority Republicans to fail.  In Mitt Romney’s case, he is not looking for diversity for diversity’s sake.  That’s not to say he won’t pick a female or minority candidate, but if he does it will be someone respected by both sides and unassailable.

This makes Allen West, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley, and Susana Martinez less likely.  However, it doesn’t necessarily knock Condoleeza Rice out of the running, although she will carry the stigma on the left of being chosen for diversity’s sake.  Again, might not be fair, but since when were politics fair.

Mitt’s VP choice will not be controversial.

It’s bad when your VP candidate has almost as many quotable gaffes as Joe Biden

Mitt Romney is not looking to cause trouble for himself.  He doesn’t need a loudmouth or a controversial character.  Don’t expect any candidate who is going to make serious waves.  As I said before, Romney doesn’t need a distraction from the freak show of the Obama economy.  Expect a well respected candidate who is as smooth politically as Romney himself.

You can scratch the Donald, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Allen West, and Newt Gingrich off your list.  This is a strike against Jeb Bush and Condoleeza Rice as well.  But it favors Mitch Daniels, possibly Bob McDonell, and John Thune.

Expect a strategic pick.

Romney’s not going to choose a popular governor from a red state.  But he might choose a popular candidate from a purple or blue state.  And there are a few to choose from.  Rubio would lock of Florida.  Bob McDonnell could secure the nearly must win blue state of Virginia.  Tim Pawlenty could inspire votes from the teetering Great Lakes states.  Rick Snyder of Michigan could really bring in some blue states, but he is likely disqualified for being old and a fresh face at the same time.  Brian Sandoval might help swing Nevada to Romney while also providing the opportunity to highlight Harry Reid’s role in the destruction of our economy.

This set of criteria will hardly provide a definite pick.  In fact, some points are contradictory.  But it should provide some ideas for people who are looking at the potential VP picks.  I could hardly make a prediction even based on this criteria.  But I do believe it comprises the factors that Romney will be looking at when making his pick.

Will The Importance of Ohio in the General Election Determine Who Romney Nominates for Vice President?: The Herd Looks at Rob Portman

Bookmark and Share  The Herd is a special White House 2012 series covering the obvious and not so obvious names that Mitt Romney may consider for Vice President.  Each day, White House 2012 will introduce you to one of the many Republicans which we believe that will  at least be considered for the vice presidency by the now inevitable presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

In addition to biographical information and a brief assessment of each potential nominee and their chances of being selected by Romney, White House 2012′s coverage also includes each potential nominee’s voting records, as well as a listing of their public statements and links to their web sites.

Today White House 2012 offers a look at Ohio Senator Rob Portman

Ohio Senator Robert Portman

Born Robert Jones Portman (1955-12-19) December 19, 1955 (age 56) Cincinnati, Ohio
Political Party Republican
Spouse(s) Jane Portman
Residence Terrace Park, Ohio
Alma Mater Dartmouth College (B.A.) University of Michigan (J.D.)
Profession Attorney
Religion United Methodist

Professional Experience:

  • Owner, Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, Ohio,
  • Attorney, Squire, Sanders, & Dempsey
  • Attorney, Patton, Boggs and Blow
  • Congressional Aide
  • White House Aide

Political Experience:

  • Associate Counsel to the President, 1989
  • Director, White House Legislative Affairs, 1989-1991
  • Won, Special Election, United States House of Representatives, May 4, 1993
  • Representative, United States House of Representatives, 1993-2005
  • Senator, United States Senate, 2010-present

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Casual observers of politics may not be very familiar with the name Bob Portman, but in the world of economics Portman is highly regarded as a leading budget hawk, a reputation he established during his 6 terms as a Congressman and as a former Director of Management and Budget. His leadership has been marked by proposals for a balanced budget, fighting against irresponsible earmarks, attempts to put in place new transparency for all federal spending, and when he was Director of Management and Budget, for reducing the size of the federal deficit by more than half of its size at the time.

Prior to becoming the cabinet level Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Senator Portman held another cabinet level post as U.S. Trade Representative. There, Portman implemented and enforced trade policies that successfully reduced barriers to U.S. exports and increased enforcement of trade laws which helped to level the playing field for American farmers, workers and service providers. That is an accomplishment that could have significant appeal to many pivotal, farming oriented states.

Another point that could have vast electoral appeal is that under Portman’s leadership, American exports increased and the U.S. brought its first successful legal case against China.

Through it all, while Portman closely adhered to conservative orthodoxy, he still managed to establish another reputation for himself as a successful bipartisan leader and through his bipartisan efforts effectively maneuvered legislative initiatives through Congress which increased retirement savings, reformed the IRS and added over fifty new taxpayer rights, curbed unfunded mandates, reduced taxes, and expanded drug prevention and land conservation efforts.

Now entering his second year as United States Senator representing the important swing state of Ohio, Portman’s reputation and proven record could make him a prime target for Romney if he wants to balance the ticket with a solid conservative who has particular expertise with the budget matters that are playing such a critical role in this election, and who is not seen as an overly partisan politician, while at the same time can make the difference between winning and losing Ohio in the general election…….a factor which could very well mean winning or losing the presidency of the United States. It is that consideration which has led many political insiders to conclude that Romney will in fact pick Portman to be his rinning mate.

While too much weight is probably being placed on that for anyone to defintively state Portman will be the vice presidential nominee, the Ohio factor is certainly compelling.

Historically, the choice of a running mate has done little to affect the results of a presidential election. The last time it did come very close to making the difference in the presidential election was 52 years ago, when then Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy selected Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson to be his vice presidential running mate. That decision helped to assure that the close election of 1960 (Kennedy defeated Nixon by 0.16% of the popular vote), would swing to Kennedy in the Electoral College where the final 303 to 219 electoral vote count was the closest since 1916. Kennedy and Johnson had no love for one another. In fact it was just the opposite. However, politics makes for strangebedfellows and so the Kennedy-Johnson alliance was born to insure winning the White House.

It is also worth remembering that the last time the state which a vice presidential running mate came from could have made a big difference was in the year 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Florida Supreme Court and order the Democrat led attempts to reinterpret voter intent in only those counties which Al Gore won, be stopped. In that election, had one of Florida’s favorite sons, Senator Connie Mack, accepted the offer from Dick Cheney to be George W. Bush’s vice presidential running mate, the results in Florida would not have been quite as close as they were, and the nation would have been spared the more than one month long anguish and uncertainty of who the next President was going to be.

Data indicates that the selection of a Vice President usually affects most elections by one percent or less, or by the most, two percent nationally. But the same data shows that the selection of a V.P. candidate can affect the vote in the home state of the chosen vice presidential candidate by as much as four percent. Given these facts and the very likely possibility for this election to be close, at least in the Electoral College, a swing of as much as four percent in a battleground state like Ohio or Florida, could make all the difference between winning and losing in the Electoral College. Which is why like Rob Portman in Ohio, Jeb Bush of Florida and Bob McDonnell of Virginia must also be considered as very real a potential running mate for Mitt Romney.

Given these facts and the fact that Republicans may not be able to win the White House without winning Ohio (no Republican has ever been elected President without it), Portman could be the only available favorite son from Ohio who could change that state’s popular vote so significantly that it could swing it and the entire election to Romney. Therefore, when it comes to Rob Portman being on the ticket, at some point the powers that be may decide that they can’t win the election without Portman helping to make sure they win Ohio. Personally I do not believe that Portman is as of yet popular enough in the Buckeye State to ensure a G.O.P. victory there but he also can’t hurt the chances of pulling out a G.O.P. victory there.

All things considered, Senator Portman is probably one of the safest, least controversial, and most logical choices for any Republican presidential nominee to select as their running mate and therefore, like Bobby Jindal, Bob McDonnell, Mitch Daniels, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree, John Thune, Portman becomes a leading contender.

Pros:

  • Portman might influence the results in Ohio by a margin that could deliver Ohio for Republicans and winning Ohio is practicial required in order for Republicans to win the White House
  • Could please conservatives who not yet sold on Romney
  • Portman corners the market for Republicans on the issues most critical in this election…. the economy
  • Is experienced in areas of trade, another important issue
  • He is not a lightning rod for liberal attacks and his addition to the ticket would not invite a litany of distractions during the campaign

Cons:

  • Portman’s ties to the G.W. Bush Administration will be exploited by the Obama team in a way that will take on a life of its own

Assessment:

While Portman is viewed as one of the most likely people for Romney to pick for Vice President because of his probable ability to put Ohio in the Republican electoral vote count, I do not beliueve that Bob Portman has yet established the type of bond with Ohioans that is necessary to overcome the type of treacherous rewrite of history that will be done by the Obama regarding his record. Ohio voters are not yet so familiar with, and loyal to Portman, that they embrace him as one of their own in a way that they did other Ohio politicians such as the legendary Robert Taft or even more recently, John Glenn. Those were leaders so loved by Ohioans that if they were put through the type of character assassination attempt that Portman will experience, it would backfire. But that is not the case with Rob Portman. At least not yet. And if Ohio is so pivotal, Team Obama will do all they can to assasinante the charachter of Rob Portman. And Portman’s short time as G. W. Bush’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, will be the basis for that character assasination.

Of course, Portman will easily and correctly be able to defend his record by making it quitre clear that most of his reccomendations whil Director of OMB were not followed up on by the Bush Administration, but in many regards, the Obama campaign will have the ability to create the false impression that Portman played a part in creating the current economic crisis.

Understanding that, it must also be said that the opposition will do the same with anyone who is nominated by Republicans. So from that perspective, Portman should not be denied the chance to defend his record, a record that is truly exceptional and could be incredibly helpful in allowing Mitt Romney to advance a powerful case for fiscal conservatism.

Ultimatley though, if fiscal conservatism and budgets are a selling point that Romney wants his running mate to well versed and experienced in, I see him more likely to select someone else. Possibly someone like Mitch Daniels who was also a Director of the Office of Management of Budget under G.W. Bush but has a stronger and nmore loyal following than Portman, and has his economic record as Governor of Indiana to point to when Obama tries to pin the Bush years on him.

Portman certainly is on the short list for Vice President and for good reason. But I do not believe that he will make the final cut.

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Recent Key Votes

S 2343 – Prohibits Increase in Interest Rates for Student Loans (Reid Bill)
Legislation (Nay), May 24, 2012

S Amdt 2107 – Authorizes Import of FDA-Approved Drugs from Canada
Amendment (Nay) May 24, 2012

S Amdt 2153 – Prohibits Increase in Interest Rates for Student Loans (Lamar Bill)
Amendment (Yea), May 24, 2012

More Key Votes

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Portman on The Issues

International Issues Domestic Issues Economic Issues Social Issues
Foreign Policy Gun Control Budget & Economy Education
Homeland Security Crime Government Reform Health Care
War & Peace Drugs Tax Reform Abortion
Free Trade Civil Rights Social Security Families & Children
Immigration Jobs Welfare & Poverty Corporations
Energy & Oil Environment Technology Principles & Values

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