Yesterday’s endorsement of Mitt Romney by former Florida governor Jeb Bush sent the implicit message that the time had come to wrap up the nomination process and begin focusing on the general election. Bush made that more explicit in an interview with Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Salena Zito — and Bush had an idea how to make the ticket even stronger:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says Republican front-runner Mitt Romney has earned the right to take on President Obama in November.
“It is time to get behind the nominee,” Bush told the Tribune-Review on Wednesday during a visit to Pittsburgh. “And it is time for the country to focus on the most important thing, which is to elect a president who will create a climate for high growth and job-creating abilities for our country.”
Does he want to be VP? No, but he knows the man for the job:
“Marco Rubio,” he said of the freshman Florida GOP senator, who served as a volunteer on Bush’s governor’s campaign. Bush described Rubio, 40, as “dynamic, joyful, disciplined and principled.”
“He is the best orator of American politics today, a good family man. He is not only a consistent conservative, but he has managed to find a way to communicate a conservative message full of hope and optimism,” Bush said.
No doubt, Rubio would be a popular choice for a running mate in the GOP. He routinely wins the polls here at Hot Air for the slot, for example. If Romney does win the nomination — and that seems just short of certain now — he’d need a popular figure like Rubio among conservatives, and I’m not sure there’s another choice that could help him consolidate the base as effectively.
However, I’m still not sold on this as an effective general-election choice. Rubio has not had any executive-branch experience yet, and has been in the Senate for a mere 14 months. He needs more time to garner broader experience before one can make the claim that he has a resumé that justifies him being one heartbeat away from the Presidency. (Yes, I know Obama only had two years in the Senate before beginning his run for the top spot. Look how well that’s working out.) As talented as Rubio is, he has a brilliant career ahead of him if he shows some patience and builds a record of more than just fabulous oratory. He needs a full term in the Senate with his name on significant legislation, then a term as governor in Florida. With that kind of record, Rubio might be unbeatable in any cycle. With four or eight years as VP after less than two in the Senate, Rubio could end up being a historical footnote.
Bobby Jindal makes more sense as a running mate in this cycle, or Nikki Haley, both of whom are governors outside of Washington with Southern draw. Jindal probably would be better in getting conservatives to coalesce behind him, and he has a real track record of political reform in his second term in the top spot in Louisiana.
Update: Fox asked Rick Perry about rumors of his being on the shortlist, and Perry says that rumor is all it is:
“Texas governor versus VP? The balance on that one isn’t even close,” Perry said. “I would suggest to you that’s deep in the rumor category and I got a better gig where I am, thank you.”
Perry would make a pretty good running mate, though, and would help Romney get conservative backing. I don’t see Perry in a #2 slot, however, and I doubt he sees himself there either.