What qualities should Romney look for in a VP?

In 2008, McCain faced a very difficult choice of who to have as his VP.  He wanted someone who would both gain the full support of conservatives, and who would also help McCain with women and moderates.  So he made a bold choice and picked Palin.  He aimed very high, and missed.  Bush had the support of moderates and the base and was able to make a safe choice in 2000 and 2004.  Dole made a mistake with Kemp and picked someone to try to reach fiscal conservatives with his pick of Kemp, but ended up losing soccer moms with that choice.  George H.W Bush needed to win social conservatives and picked Quayle, which may have helped in 1988, but did not in 1992.  Reagan wanted to win over moderates and picked Bush.

When we look over those past picks we find that candidates who used their pick to help sure up base support: McCain, Dole, Bush, all ended up losing some key swing voters segment.  The general idea is for a candidate to win the base prior to selecting a VP so he can focus on someone who will win moderates and swing voters.  Romney is despised by part of the base, and much of the rest of the base is luke-warm towards him.  That is not an unwinnable possition, but a hard one.  Believe it or not, Reagan was despised by part of the GOP, and won them over by selecting Bush.  Romney needs to pick a vp who will balance him, and thus he must:

  1. Pick a nominee who will help him with social conservatives, and especially with Christian conservatives.  Romney is a Mormon, and must run with a VP who shares the views of many Christians that Mormons are not Chrsitian, and who is viewed as solid in his personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Romney cannot pick a social moderate, a social liberal, or someone who is not either a Born-again Evangelical or a conservative Catholic
  2. Romney must avoid picking a fiscal conservative.  Romney is conservative enough on taxes and spending.  When running against Obama, Romney has room to move left, and must run left of where he is running now.  He needs to distance himself from the Paul Ryan budget, from Erick Cantor, and from Ron Paul.  If Romney doubles down on fiscal issues he will make the same mistake that Dole made in 1996.  Romney cannot afford a Jack Kemp like pick.
  3. Romney must avoid picking a neocon.  Romney is strong enough on military issues.  If he picks a Rudy or a John McCain he will end up allowing Obama to make Iraq and Afghanistan issues.  Polling shows this is the worst possible area for the GOP to talk about.  Wars cost money, and Romney will lose fiscal and social conservatives if he moves any further right.  Romney gains nothing from moving right on military issues.
  4. Romney must avoid picking someone who is exciting or outshines him.  Romney’s path to election is looking like a viable alternative to Obama.  No drama needed.

Ideally, team Romney will pick a VP from the ranks of folks who have been his strongest critics.  Some good choices are:

  • Mike Huckabee — Huckabe is not my ideal candidate, but is a great complement to Romney.  The news stories would focus on how much Huckabee and Romney hated eachother, which would have the effect of making Romney look above politics, open minded, and would cause folks to re-think their views of him
  • Sam Brownback — Brownback may be a little on the conservative side, but he will win religious and social conservatives easily for Romney.  He doesn’t gafe, is governor and former senator.  Is well respected.
  • Jeb Bush — Bush would win social conservatives over on day one.  He was a conservative pre-tea party, but now is probably best described as a pre-2011 conservative.  He is another strong, safe, pick.

Folks will notice that all these picks are folks who were or are governor.  They all are people who would be an olive leaf between Romney and Christian voters.  They all are people who are unquestionably able and prepared to be president.  They all are conservatives, but they all are very different from Romney.  They all have appeal to moderate voters that Romney lacks.

Some of the types of people to avoid at all costs are:

  • Paul Ryan – The singular worst possible choice.  This is akin to if Obama were to pick Barney Frank.
  • Rubio – Another bad choice.  It looks so political that it will backfire.  Rubio lacks executive experience.
  • Chris Christie – another horrible choie.  Christie would not win NJ and would not help with social conservatives or moderates.  Anyone from New England is a horrible pick for Romney.
  • Erick Cantor — A horrible choice.  First, he is not Christian and this would mean a GOP ticket of 2 nonChristians.  Second he is too fiscally conservative (as he stands now, a couple years back he was too moderate).  Third, he is a flip-flop.  Finally, he has never been strong with social conservatives beyond the strength of the R next to his name and that he is in a district drawn for the GOP to win.
  • Allen West.  A nightmare.  Last thing we need is a tea party GOP to fire up the dem base.  It will look racial to sent a black VP up against Obama.  This would be a massive mistake.
  • Any female or minority — This would look political and backfire.  Obama is the first black president, brining race or similar into this only helps Democrats.

Simply put, Romney should ask himself of who he hates the most, and that should be his VP.  That plan worked for JFK with LBJ, it worked with Reagan with Bush, and likely with Obama and Biden.  Biden, as we recall said Obama was not ready to be president.