Ah, April Fools Day, just one in a string of useless holidays that are only relevant to my calender and my friends on Twitter. Many hours of useful productivity are lost to the not-in-any-way hilarious pranks that come along with a Hallmark holiday. That’s why I’ve chosen this time to talk about something that is equally unimportant: “who should Mitt Romney choose for his running mate?”
It’s a question that no grown man now working for Mitt Romney’s campaign should spend any time on, but because of the aforementioned handicaps that have placed on my day this somehow seems like a worthwhile pursuit. Let’s get started by establishing a few things that, at this point, should be common knowledge but for some reason aren’t. First off, Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee. It’s not that he’s the best qualified to be President, it’s not that he’s a good campaigner, it’s not because his electric personality is drawing people to the polls. No, it is because Mitt Romney is the only candidate with a competent campaign staff and organization. Perhaps that says something about the Republican Party this time around, perhaps not, but the clear will of those sad, desperate Republican primary voters who turned out to vote for a lackluster candidate is Mitt Romney. So let us end that discussion here for the only conversation more wasteful than discussing Mitt Romney’s running mate is the one involving the hypothetical improbability that someone else will be the nominee.
Fortunately for Republicans, what the party lacked in Presidential prospects it almost makes up for by having an endless pool of fairly competent Vice-Presidential prospects. Let’s take a look at them and assess their feasibility. The smart move would be to go after Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL.) That’s the candidate that gives you the most political bang for your buck. He’d make Florida competitive thereby making the President spend much more than he’d like to in the state and there’s a possibility he could help the Republican Party make inroads with Hispanics, a constituency they will need if they expect to hold majorities in Congress in upcoming elections. What’s more is he excites the base because he’s young, energetic and speaks in coherent sentences.
There’s an argument against Rubio of course. There were some questions about his life story when he ran for the Senate – which didn’t drag him down – but boy did it look bad and you certainly don’t need any more baggage if you’re Mitt Romney (I believe all his luggage is Louis Vitton or Chanel), so at the very least Rubio’s luggage wouldn’t blend in. Rubio is also a rising star in the GOP who may have Presidential aspirations of his own and if Romney fails in his bid to win the White House Rubio would have the aura of a lost campaign having over his head the next time around. Rubio has played the expectations game wisely and has said he’s not interested, which must make Mitt Romney want him even more.
The next best bet for Romney would be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie has been a good surrogate for Romney in the Republican primary and has said he’ll “be ready” for a Presidential run in 2016. The question you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re in Romney’s camp is: does he think that being a two-term Governor will make him a more viable candidate or does he think being the failed VP nominee in the last election will make him the party’s standard bearer going forward? There are arguments that could be made for both viewpoints. I think Christie would accept the Vice Presidential nomination should it be offered and it would add some much needed fire into the Romney campaign. But one thing that you always worry about when you’re selecting a Vice Presidential candidate is: “will the VP candidate upstage the Presidential candidate?” For that reason and that reason alone, I think the Romney campaign should think twice about putting him on the ticket. The other drawback is that Christie isn’t likely to deliver any states for Romney. Romney is a former Governor from the Northeast, so at least on paper Christie wouldn’t bring any states into play that Romney doesn’t already have. Christie may bring new voters in however and if this election is going to be the close election everyone thinks it will be then perhaps Christie helps you.
The last person on the short list should be Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY.) Wow does this make a lot of sense. Ron Paul has stayed in this race for two reasons: one, he wants some good air time at the convention and two, he wants to give his son the best opportunity to advance in politics as he can. By putting Rand Paul on the ticket you’d be accomplishing everything you need to accomplish when selecting a Vice-Presidential candidate. He’s a Senator from Kentucky, which will put some of the border states and some of the states in the Midwest in play. He is the son of Ron Paul and the Paul family name is like a brand in the Republican party. Ron Paul also has a lot of younger supporters that could very easily be persuaded that Rand Paul is the kind of Libertarian that his father is, so not only does Romney help make inroads with younger voters, he also satisfies a key constituency in his base.
Rand Paul is also a Doctor and Mitt Romney has been hit hard over his links to Obamacare. Having a Doctor vouch for your credentials as someone who can help make health care better is a big advantage that could potentially help Romney deal with the negative blowback he’s getting from conservatives over his support of the individual mandate in the past. Paul would also get crucial Tea Party activists and Evangelicals strongly behind the campaign and there is nothing scarier on Election Day than a fired up base. The final two reasons that Romney should pick Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is that Rand Paul looks and acts Presidential and Paul has spent most of his life on the campaign trail.
Some people may look at the fact that he’s spent so much of his life campaigning as something relatively insignificant, but it’s not. Romney’s biggest liability is his ability to sell himself in the game of retail politics and that is perhaps where Paul can help him the most. When you start working for a candidate you look for two things: what are the candidates strengths and what are the candidates weaknesses. In assessing Mitt Romney as a candidate it is clear that his strength lies in his organization and his ability to say that he is a competent manager. So when it comes to a Vice President, he needs someone who not only strengthens him where he’s strongest, but helps him where he’s weakest and the person that far and away helps Mitt Romney the most is Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY.)