Who Will Fill the 2012 VP Spot? A Guide to the GOP Race for Second

By Myra Adams

According to the latest Gallup poll conducted among Republicans and Republican leaning voters, former Governor Mitt Romney is leading former Governor Sarah Palin by only two points, 17% to 15%.

Now, since Sarah Palin has yet to announce a Presidential Exploratory Committee and her official candidacy is still up in the air, for the purposes of analyzing the potential 2012 vice-presidential candidates I will use “front runner” Mitt Romney and his possible short list of vice-presidential running mates.

(Notice the term “front runner’ is used very loosely.)

However, all the potential VP candidates discussed here could wind up on the short list of whoever is the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney in a Real Clear Politics match-up against President Obama loses 48.6% to 42.1% with a 6.5% margin of victory for Obama.

This is still far and away the best showing any Republican can currently muster against Obama. Thus Romney’s running mate might have an opportunity to help make the race more competitive.

(As for the effect a VP choice can have on a presidential ticket, be sure to do some research on McCain/Palin 2008.)

So who could best complement Romney on the ticket? And more important, who could help Romney unite what will undoubtedly be a fractured party?

Before all the names and explanations are offered, let’s first review a little vice-presidential selection history to gain some political perspective.

Vice-presidential running mates are chosen for vastly different reasons, and usually have nothing to do with whether or not that person is actually qualified to take over as president in the event of… well, you know, the awful awful.

There is the “geographical balance” reason, like when Massachusetts Senator John Kennedy selected Texas Senator Lyndon Johnson in 1960.

There is the ”runner-up who can help me win” reason successfully employed when Reagan picked George H. W. Bush in 1980.

There is the “I need a young handsome face on the ticket” reason, utilized in 1992 when incumbent Vice-President George H.W. Bush selected Indiana Senator Dan Quayle to be his number two.

Also from 1992 was the “Governor nominee who thinks he needs a Senator with Washington experience” reason — put into play when Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton selected Tennessee Senator Al Gore.

In 1996 Republican presidential candidate, Senator Bob Dole chose former Congressman Jack Kemp for the “I need a Reagan conservative to balance the ticket” reason.

And who can forget “the ticket needs some gravitas” reason, when Governor George W. Bush selected Dick Cheney in 2000. (Or rather this one should really be called, “the VP Selection Committee leader chose himself reason.)

From 2008 there was “my ticket is in desperate need of someone with some foreign policy experience” reason when Senator Obama picked Senator Biden.

And then on the Republican side the historic “I need a young conservative female because I am an old, high-risk, high-reward kind of guy” reason which went operational with gusto when Senator McCain tapped then unknown Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Now that we are up to speed from the historical perspective, let’s examine who Romney might select as his running mate. These names are in NO particular order and to restate, any GOP nominee may wind up choosing from this list.

Romney – Bush

Former two-term Florida Governor Jeb Bush most certainly would have been the prime, top of the ticket contender in 2008 had his last name been “Plant” instead of Bush. And for that same reason again, Jeb has taken himself out of the presidential field in 2012. But that does not preclude Jeb from making himself available for the #2 spot on the ticket, to which he would bring numerous assets that are chronicled in detail here.

Briefly, Jeb could help bring Florida back to the red column. The Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida would have extra spark and bounce if a hometown resident was selected as the VP candidate. Jeb is Catholic, his wife is Hispanic, he speaks Spanish, has considerable policy knowledge and experience — and is a respected GOP party heavyweight.

Jeb in the number #2 slot might make Romney in the #1 spot more palatable to disillusioned conservatives who might be still be sulking.

Then there is the added bonus that Jeb would be the most visible front runner for 2016 if Romney loses to Obama. It has been widely reported that 2016 may be Jeb’s time.

Romney – Kyl

Romney, like Obama in 2008, might choose a running mate who has extensive knowledge in foreign affairs and decades of Senate experience.

Enter Arizona Senator Jon Kyle, the #3 ranking Republican in the Senate who is retiring in 2012 after three terms. Kyl is a well respected conservative and told this writer last year that he would be interested in the VP slot.

Romney- Petraeus

Romney’s selection of David Petraeus could possibly be a “game changer.”

Just imagine this scenario: General Petraeus is soon retiring from the Army to set up camp as Director of the CIA, serving under President Obama.

So sometime in the middle of 2012, Director Petraeus has some “major policy disagreements” with the president and resigns his CIA post. Then he is suddenly available and Romney selects him as his surprise choice for VP.

Romney could definitely use the boost in the foreign policy area, especially when our nation might still be engaged in three unpopular wars.

Petraeus would be real asset to Romney and perhaps inject some positive energy into the ticket.

Romney- Rubio

Newly elected in November 2010, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, is a young conservative Senator of Hispanic descent, and considered a rising star in the GOP. He is often mentioned as a possible VP candidate but has stated he will not be on the ticket in 2012.

However, in the unlikely event he does receive and takes “the call,” he too, like Jeb Bush could help land Florida in the red state column and unify the party. Rubio, from what I can gather really does plan to wait out 2012 and ascend to higher office on this own time table.

Romney – Palin

If Sarah Palin is a formidable force in 2012 winning several primaries, then selecting Palin may be a wise choice for Romney and a chance to unite the party. Certainly her 2008 campaign experience would be a plus for the ticket. Then “Can I call you Joe?” from the 2008 VP debate would be a redux.

Now, for all you political junkies out there reading this piece, file it away until August of 2012. Then, as my wise old political friend likes to say, if you are wrong no one remembers, and if you are right everyone thinks you’re a genius!

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