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.

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Romney-McDonnell: White House 2012 Looks at the Potential for Bob McDonnell Being Nominated Vice President

Bookmark and Share The Herd is a special White House 2012 series covering the obvious and not so obvious potential names for Mitt Romney to choose from when picking his vice presidential nominee.  Each day, White House 2012 will introduce you to one of the many Republicans which we believe will at least be considered for for the vice presidency by the now inevitable Republican presidential nominee.

In addition to biographical information and a brief assessment of each potential nominee and their chances of being selected by Mitt 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 and records.

Today White House 2012 takes a look at the Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell.

Born Robert Francis McDonnell (1954-06-15) June 15, 1954 (age 57) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Republican Party
Spouse(s) Maureen Gardner; 5 children
Residence Executive Mansion
Alma mater University of Notre Dame (B.B.A.) Boston University (M.B.A.) Regent University (M.A., J.D.)
Profession United States Army Officer Businessman Attorney at Law Politician
Religion Roman Catholic

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Political Career:

  • 1992 – 2005:  Virginia House of Delegates
  • 2006 – 2009:  Virginia State Attorney General
  • 2010 – Present:  Governor of Virginia
  • 2011 -Present:  Chairman of the Republican Governors Association

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Bookmark and Share  During a February 21st, 2011 television interview, when asked“What if the party’s nominee.. came to you and said for the betterment of your Party and your country, I need you to serve as my running mate. Wouldn’t that be a difficult thing for you to turn down?” McDonnell replied simply, “Probably.”  Thus prompting White House 2012 to add Bob McDonnell to what was an already early and premature list of possible running mates for whoever the nominee was going to be that we first created and posted in December 0f 2010.  You see, even back then, there were certain outstanding individuals who many understood, were natural and logical potential vice presidential nominees, simply because they were exceptional leaders.

Today, with Mitt Romney’s selection of a vice presidential nominee soon approaching, McDonnell is still a natural and logical choice for Mitt Romney to nominate  for Vice President.

Bob McDonnell is a solid choice. He carries little baggage, is on the right side of all the issues that the G.O.P. base wants covered and is a strong speaker who would add a level of confidence and competence to the ticket. The greatest criticism might be that he has only been Governor for what at the time will be slightly over 2 in a half years. But Barack Obama was a Senator for less than that amount of time and it was good enough to elect him President. So for a Vice President , that should be no big deal, even though it seemed to have been a big issue when Sarah Palin was nominated for Vice President in 2008..

McDonnell’s establishing himself as a potential Vice President and ultimately maybe even President, did not come over night.  Getting to that point was a journey through decades of personal growth and accomplishments that really began after he graduated from University of Notre Dame on an ROTC scholarship, with a B.B.A. in management.

Upon leaving Notre Dame in 1976, McDonnell  joined the service where he served as a medical supply officer in the United States Army for four years.  Two and half of those years included posts in medical clinics in Germany, and for a year a half, in Newport News, Virginia.   During that time, McDonnell’s never ending drive for knowledge and self improvement compelled him to obtain a Masters of Science in Business Administration earned  by taking night classes from Boston University.

Upon leaving active duty service in 1981, McDonnell continued his military service as a reservist in the U.S. Army but as for a regular job, he took his young family to Atlanta where he was hired for a Fortune 500 Company named American Hospital Supply Corporation.  His work soon earned him a rapid succession  of promotions and after a year, American Hospital Supply Corp. transferred McDonnell to the company’s headquarters in suburban Chicago. The following year they put McDonnell in charge of their multi-million dollar custom  products regional division, based in Kansas City, where he managed the corporation’s  Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Kansas  City offices.   But feeling personally unfulfilled by his work, McDonnell took advantage of his Vietnam-era G.I. Bill benefits that were to cease to exist in 1989, and decided to to go back to Virginia where he enrolled in Regent University in Virginia Beach to seek a Masters Degree in Public  Policy.  Then when the young university opened a law school, McDonnell took advantage of that to also obtain a law degree.

To say the least, it was a rather hectic and sleepless period in McDonnell’s life.  Others may not have been able to carry the burden of  simultaneously attending  law school, while pursing a Master’s Degree in  public policy, and doing so while supporting his family  as a sales manager for The  Virginian-Pilot newspaper, and serving in the active reserves of the Army with the 18th Field Hospital in Norfolk. In total,  McDonnell would serve 21 years in the U.S.  Army reserves until he finally retired as a Lt. Colonel, the same rank as his father, in 1997.  During these years, part of McDonnell’s pursuit of his law degree led him to also do an internship on Capitol  Hill with the House Republican Policy Committee for California Congressman Jerry Lewis, and it was here that McDonnell’s personal journey took him in a direction different than his previous private sector path.

So in 1989, with his degrees in hand, McDonnell took a job as a prosecutor in the Virginia  Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and in 1991 he ran for the seat representing Virginia Beach in the House of Delegates from the 84th District. He won and was reelected to the seat, six more times.

Here, as was the case with every other position and job McDonnell took responsibility for, he excelled.

Some of the  most prominent bills he drafted, sponsored and shepherded through the state legilature included Virginia’s historic Welfare Reform legislation, the reform of  Virginia’s drunk driving laws, legislation to abolish the death tax and to rewrite and improve  Virginia’s Public Private Partnership Transportation Act.  He was all the prime sponsor of Governor Allen’s Juvenile Justice Reform  Initiative.

In short time McDonnell rose through the House of Delegate’s political ranks and became Assistant Majority Leader and Chairman  of the House Courts of Justice Committee and along the way, in 1996 he was named the Network of Victims of Crime Legislator  of the Year in 1996.  In 1998 he was named The National Child Support Enforcement Association National  Legislator of the Year and  The Family Foundation of Virginia’s Legislator  of the Year.  He was again named The Family Foundations’ Legislator of the Year  in 2001, and in 2005  he received the honor of becoming the Virginia Sheriff’s Association Legislator  of the Year.

Then in 2006, McDonnell decided to run for Attorney General and after election results that were initially disputed, he was declared the winner by 323 votes.

As Attorney General of Virginia, McDonnell went right to work.  He established a “Senior Alert” to assist in locating missing seniors  with mental deficiencies, created a state of the art Sex Offender Registry, strengthened Virginia’s mental  health laws, and provided new tools for law enforcement involved in online investigations of  identity theft, sexual predators, and other 21st Century criminals. McDonnell  also created and led Virginia’s Youth Internet Safety Task Force, which was credited with improving online  safety, and establishing the ongoing Attorney General’s Task Force on Regulatory  and Government Reform. That task force made over 300 recommendations to  streamline Virginia’s Administrative Code, and reduce burdensome government  regulation.

But in 2009, McDonnell resigned as Attorney General in order to spend all his time and effort on running for Governor, a job he won in a landslide which saw him receive more votes than any candidate for  Governor in Virginia history.  McDonnell’s landslide also helped to sweep many new Republicans in to the Virginia state legislature.

Upon becoming Governor, McDonnell inherited a $6 billion deficit but in a year’s time he turned it in to a $400 million surplus.  And he did so after defeating a proposed $2 billion increase in the state income tax, and keeping the state’s existing car tax relief.

But perhaps the most profound immediate positive impact McDonnell has had was his ability to in less trhan two years, take Virginia’s unemployment from 7.2% to 5.6% after creating 111,900 new jobs in the state.

All this is probably why in 2011, McDonnell’s Republican colleagues chose him to be the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.  It is also one of the reasons why Bob McDonnell is seen as an obvious choice for Vice President.

Pros:

  • McDonnell is a skilled campaigner and legislator whose talents can only help the ticket
  • “If” this a close presidential election, Virginia is a state that Romney must win in any formula that allows him to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to take the White House.  Bob McDonnell can deliver Virginia to the Republican column
  • McDonnell can help Romney among evangelicals who he needs to cast their ballots for him in record numbers.
  • McDonnell can help Romney in the South where he needs bridge the enthusiasm gap that exists for Romney
  • McDonnell’s record on jobs, energy, budgets, and deficits is an invaluable asset that will help draw sharp contrasts with Obama’s record
  • His experience in law and law enforcement, and on matters concerning the Constitution is unparalleled by most other likely contenders for the vice presidency and it helps to call in to question the credentials of the Obama Administration concerning ther Adminsistrations many legal challenges to states and their sovereignty

Cons:

  • McDonnell’s addition to the ticket does not bring the type of diversity which other potential candidates like Marco Rubio, Condoleezza Rice or Susana Martinez can, and that diversity might be needed to help win in key battlegrounds states like Ohio and/or Florida
  • McDonnell signed an executive order removing anti-discriminatory protection for gays and lesbians in Virginia, rescinding a 2006 order from Gov. Kaine which had prohibited discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.  This will mobilize liberal gay activists to the point where they may get some mileage from attempts to paint McDonnell and by natural extension, the Republican ticket,  as out of touch, right wing extremists
  • Governor McDonnell issued a proclamation designating April 2010 as Confederate History Month and the initial proclamation left out any anti-slavery language.  McDonnell rectified this  but the issue is one which the left may try to exploit
  • McDonnell signed in to law a measure that mandates ultra sounds for pregnant women seeking an abortion.  The measure came after McDonnell initially supported an earlier bill requiring  women to get an intravaginal ultrasound before an abortion procedure
  • Lacks any immediate foreign affairs experience

General Assessment:

McDonnell has his fingerprints are all over the solutions to the most critical problems ailing the nation. On an issue such as energy, he has led the way in making Virginia an national resource for natural energy with his support drilling for oil off of the coast of Virginia while simultaneously developing new technologies for wind, solar, biomass, and other renewable energy resources and expanding investments in renewable energy sources while also incentivizing  green job creation.  On the issue of jobs, CNBC named Virginia “The Top State for Business” in the country and while the nation has been focussed on not counting the number of people who have dropped out of the job market, since taking office McDonnell has has created 112,00 net new jobs and the number of unemployed Virginians has decreased by 21%.  That’s  a reduction in unemployment obtained by counting new jobs not by stopping to count the number of people who gave up looking for jobs.

On budgetary matters, while the nation lost its AAA bond rating, and the deficit has ballooned at an unprecendented rate, McDonnell took his state from one with a record deficit, to where now each year he has been in office, it has a surplus.

As one newspaper put it On those issues important to  all – taxation, jobs, schools, – Bob McDonnell did not disappoint.  “Priorities were set and addressed.”  And that is exactly what people want in a Republican presidential ticket and why McDonnell is only a logical choice.

However Mitt Romney may find that he can select others who have similarly positive but are more established.  Like Indiana’s Mitch Daniels.  Or that he could find some of similar accomplishments but unlike McDonnell, could also bring diversity to the ticket.  Names like Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and New Mexico’s Susana Martinez come to mind.

Romney may also want to try to get someone whose record lacks the type of controversial social issue positions that McDonnell has brought to the table.  The thinking there is that Romney does not want to give President Obama and the left, the opportunity to focus on things will distract from the G.O.P.’s ability to get voters to focus on the Obama record and the Obama economy.    With McConnell’s decisions regarding things like issuing a proclamation designating a Confederate History Month,   removing so-called anti-discriminatory protections from  gays and lesbians, and the decision mandating ultrasounds before a women has an abortion, Romney may fear that McDonnell could be “Palinized” and that those issues will can become the distraction that Democrats want.  But such can be done with the record of any conservative.  Or liberal for that matter.

So it is hard to say with any certainty that Romney will tap McDonnell for Vice President.  But you can bet that McDonnell’s name is one of the top five on the short list for the job.

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Recent Key Votes

Legislation  (Veto)  – April 9, 2012
Legislation  (Veto) – April 9, 2012
Legislation  (Veto) – April 9, 2012

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Bob McDonnell on the Issues

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

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Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Endorses Mitt Romney

Bookmark and Share   Early this morning, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell who once declared that he would not be endorsing a candidate in the Republican presidential contest has seemingly reversed course and thrown his considerable clout behind Mitt Romney for President.

McDonnell called Romney a “results-oriented conservative” who can appeal to Democrats and independents and he told CNBC that his message is that if you want to win the race in November, vote for Mitt Romney.

On Fox News, Governor McDonnell stated that Romney has a proven record in the public and private sector of getting things done and argued that there are only three issues that will really matter in the election………. one being job creation, another being the need to get rid of “this crushing national debt” and finally, leadership.  And it is on those issues that McDonnell says Romney can win.

While McDonnell’s support has some value, the most interesting aspect of the endorsement is the timing.  It comes one day before what could be a game changing result in the South Carolina Primary.  It is pretty clear that the Romney camp, which has mastered much of the art of political campaigning, has begun to sweat and so they decided now was the time to unleash the endorsement of the popular Southern Governor in the hopes that it will help stem the perceived surge that Newt Gingrich is riding as the race in South Carolina wraps up.

In case you haven’t heard, timing is everything and its not any different in politics.

If you recall, back in December, Newt Gingrich flew to the front of the then crowded G.O.P. field.  The problem was timing.  He peeked too early and in the two weeks leading up to the Iowa Caucuses, he saw that rapid rise to the top erode and ceded ground to Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.  This time, in South Carolina, thanks to Newt’s ability to catch the crest of his wave at just the right moment, combined with a few well timed breezes at his back which consisted of Sarah Palin’s quasi-endorsement, Rick Perry’s suspension of his own campaign and endorsement of Newt’s, and two well executed debate performances, Gingrich looks like he is peaking just in time to be the first one to ride his wave across the Palmetto State finish line.   All of these conditions which have been beyond Romney’s control have forced him to play some cards that he has been holding close.  In this case, it is obvious that Gingrich’s success has Romney sweating enough to have forced his hand and play the McDonnell card.

How much it will help is questionable.

McDonnell promises to spend the closing hours of the campaign stomping in South Carolina, but Mitt already has the personal and organizational support of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and the insularly access to support from the state Party apparatus that comes with her.  And at the moment it is not stopping Gingrich from pulling ahead in the latest polls.

In my own estimation, I have concluded that even though McDonnell is a rising conservative star and a positive name to have your on side, in the case of Mitt Romney, McDonnell’s endorsement will actually benefit Newt Gingrich more than Mitt.  As the perceived “establishment” candidate, getting the endorsement of another elected  “establishment” politician, will help urge still undecided voters from among the large anti-establishment voting bloc, to move more Newt’s way than Mitt’s way.

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Rookie Republican Governors May Shape 2012 Debate

Governor Rick Scott will not be a candidate in 2012. But his actions in the first two months of his governorship will help mold the 2012 debate. In fact, success among conservative governors like him could spell doom for establishment candidates in 2012. Governor Scott is already facing opposition from establishment Republicans in Florida over his hot-off-the-presses budget.

Scott is cutting spending by $5 billion in Florida. This includes pension reform for government workers, merit pay for teachers, firing bad teachers, cutting non-essential services and streamlining government. It also includes eliminating Florida’s business tax by 2018 and cutting property taxes. Every special interest group and person who collects a state paycheck hates him right now.

Rick Scott is emblematic of the new Conservative outsider paradigm

Scott is following a path laid down by Chris Christie in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell in Virginia. And he is joined by many freshmen GOP governors who are rejecting the Keynesian model of stimulus debt spending and returning to the conservative model of cutting government spending and giving the money back to businesses and individuals who actually produce growth.

This is something the GOP majority is struggling with in the fog of Washington politics. While abstractly they have a plan to cut spending by $2.5 trillion over ten years, the House struggled to find $32 billion to cut in this year’s budget.

If the bold, conservative governors who stormed our state capitals in 2008 and 2010 are successful in fixing their state budgets and creating a stark contrast with other more liberal states, the GOP candidate for President will likely be one who can credibly claim to come from the same mold. This will favor potential candidates like Christie, Jindal, and Barbour. If he makes the right moves, Romney may also be able to attach his name to the outsider, conservative governor genre. It may not be good news for potential Senators and House members whose good ideas will be frustrated by Democrat leaders and Republican moderates.

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