“Mitt Romney’s advisers and top supporters have begun informally discussing potential vice presidential candidates and believe that the sooner he can put away the Republican nomination, the more flexibility he will have in picking his running mate…
“[T]he habitually cautious candidate is less likely to try to make a splash by picking a game-changing candidate and more likely to choose someone safe, whom he sees as competent and ready to be president.
“The conventional thinking has been that after a long and divisive primary campaign, the challenge of uniting the GOP would force Romney to pick a running mate with strong appeal to tea party activists and evangelicals. But Romney’s team thinks he may be liberated from that pressure if he can finish off remaining rivals Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul in the next few weeks…
“His advisers said they do not believe geography will play all that important a role, and that he seems unlikely to choose someone to court a single state or constituency. He does not, so far, appear to have discussed the need to pick a minority or a woman, for example, to appeal to certain kinds of voters.”
“‘Liberated’ from having to choose a candidate who appeals to evangelicals and the Tea Party? It’s the kind of formulation that would only be used by someone who sees those groups as liabilities, not assets.
“It is not likely to sit well with Tea Party supporters. ‘Brilliant, I always thought Romney needed to moderate his image,’ deadpans one aide to a conservative senator.
“Does it truly reflect the thinking of ‘Romney’s team?’
“Top Romney strategist Eric Fehrnstrom says, forcefully, it does not. ‘I have no idea where this uninformed speculation comes from, but it’s not accurate.’ The campaign, he adds, is focused ‘on securing the nomination, not on making a ticket.'”
“Although it’s axiomatic that Hispanics are the fastest-growing demographic group in this country, there is, of course, no bloc Latino vote anymore than Hispanics themselves are monolithic. But loose talk about building moats (stocked with alligators, no less) along the nation’s southern border, enforcing laws designed for ethnic profiling, and “self-deportation” — this last (inane) formulation is Romney’s own — has created a crying need for the Republican nominee to send a signal to 40 million Americans that they are not going to be marginalized by the Party of Lincoln.
“But this need is also an opportunity for Mitt Romney: He can be the first nominee of a major political party to choose a Hispanic running mate.
“So then the question becomes: Who should it be?
“Four qualified candidates are apparently under some kind of consideration — or, if not, should be. They are three governors and one U.S. senator: Govs. Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico, Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Susana Martinez of New Mexico. The senator is Marco Rubio of Florida.”
“The first reason for [Paul] Ryan to be on Romney’s ticket is that the Ryan Budget will be a major issue in the campaign regardless of who Romney’s running mate is. Who better to defend it — clearly and strongly — and attack Obama’s reckless, feckless spending than its author? Ryan, as The Almanac of American Politics says, is ‘…regarded as an intellectual leader in the GOP for his unrivaled influence on fiscal matters.’ And he uses that influence courageously, taking on the whole budget mess from taxes to the Medicare entitlement program in a way that is both fiscally responsible and reasonable…
“The second big reason for Ryan to be the choice is that he’s more than up to the task. If you listened to Paul Ryan three or four years ago, his intelligence and command of the issues were clear but he was less so. The man used to talk as if he were reading a spreadsheet. In the succeeding years, as House Budget Chairman, he’s become used to the national spotlight and seems comfortable speaking in terms people use at their kitchen table. He’s likeable, young (at 42, only two years older than Rubio), and will be good at the convention and on the stump. He can speak to younger voters in terms they’ll identify with: this is your money Obama is spending, folks, and if you elect us we’ll make sure you can keep it and enjoy a better life than your parents have had.
“The third big reason is that Ryan can compensate for Romney’s weakness on Obamacare.”
“The vice presidential pick can bring on board a good campaigner, a substantive voice, or some skills and experience where the nominee falls short. This very modest upside potential can be quickly and effortlessly offset by a choice that becomes a distraction. Distractions are the result of the unexpected, and the unexpected occurs when candidates have been poorly vetted. (You know who I mean.)…
“Introducing a brand new face in the midst of a high-profile campaign is risky business at best. For all their strengths, Geraldine Ferraro and Dan Quayle were perceived by voters as being less experienced than both their running mates and counterparts across the aisle. In the end, that fact had minimal effect upon the outcome, but litigating the issue in the heat of battle made it tougher to control the message of their campaigns.
“So let us embrace the obvious: The winning choice is the dull choice — a running mate the public already knows, warts and all. Mondale, Bush, Gore, Cheney, Biden. These were not picks that lit the world on fire. They were serious, experienced names, vetted by the harsh media glare of a previous run for president or service in the president’s cabinet. They weren’t from key states, and weren’t part of some grand plan to balance ideology. But they all won.”
“While pundits, politicians and prognosticators have tapped Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as one of the most likely GOP vice presidential picks, conservative commentator Ann Coulter warned today that such a choice would be a ‘mistake.’
“‘I think that would be a mistake because the same people who loved Rubio loved [former presidential candidate and Texas Gov.] Rick Perry,’ Coulter told me Sunday during the ‘This Week’ roundtable discussion. ‘I want someone who’s been a bit more tested.'”