Will Jan Brewer make the veepstakes short list?

posted at 5:21 pm on April 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Which direction will Mitt Romney go in selecting his running mate?  The Hill suggests that Romney will look for a “mini-me,” someone much like himself, as his track record as an executive in the private sector indicates:

Mitt Romney is on the hunt for a vice presidential candidate, and if his years running Bain Capital are any indication, he might be looking for a version of himself.

In his roughly 25 years at Bain, Romney tended to hire mini-Mitts — smart, ambitious, clean-cut and a little awkward, according to those who dealt closely with the men.

Romney built the private equity firm, a spinoff of the consulting firm Bain & Co., from the ground up in the mid-1980s, bringing on several people who would help him turn it into an investment giant.

“First-rate brain power, first-rate analytical power. These were sometimes kind of geeky people,” said Howard Anderson, a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s school of business who invested with Bain as an entrepreneur. “They were not often people who would be elected class president.”

That would tend to favor people with extensive executive experience, which leaves out the legislators on the short lists of the commentariat.  However, that would tend to strengthen the hand of some of the governors on the GOP bench, including Tim Pawlenty, whose name has gotten more mention as of late.  Allahpundit gave a good rundown of Pawlenty’s appeal to Romney last night, but the strongest argument for Pawlenty is that no one would doubt his readiness to assume the Presidency if disaster struck.  He’s been a pretty good campaigner who had one bad moment in a debate last year, and Pawlenty also signed onto Team Romney quickly after getting out and has been working hard (if quietly) since for Romney’s nomination.  Bobby Jindal also fits the profile suggested by The Hill, and has a little more connection to the conservative base, and Bob McDonnell in Virginia as well.

If Romney wanted to roll the dice a bit, perhaps he needs to look further west.  In my column today for The Week, I present a case for Jan Brewer that would entail more risk, but perhaps more reward as well:

Brewer has a record of fighting the federal government and the media. After Brewer signed a bill from the state legislature requiring law-enforcement officers to check residency status when arresting or detaining criminal suspects, Obama’s Department of Justice filed suit against the state. To the cheers of conservatives, Brewer fought back, later writing a book to bolster her case, and squared off against open-borders advocates in the media.

Nor is that the only fight Brewer has picked with the Obama administration and the media. She called a special session of the legislature to get authorization to hire outside counsel to join the lawsuit against ObamaCare, after Goddard refused to do so. Brewer also pushed for gun-rights legislation that eventually removed the permit requirement to carry guns, making Arizona one of only three states in the nation to do so. Brewer also oversaw deep cuts in social programs in order to resolve a $4 billion budget deficit, although that also included increases in some taxes.

Given Romney’s vulnerabilities with the base on immigration, health-insurance mandates, and gun rights, Brewer might be just the kind of candidate that could get the Tea Party back on board. A Brewer nomination might also force the Obama campaign to retire the “war on women” attack line. It would also firm up Romney’s standing in Arizona, as one poll this week suggested that the Republican nominee wasn’t garnering much enthusiasm in this transitioning interior-West state.

There is some downside to Brewer, too.  She has had to retract a couple of her arguments on border security in the past two years, but that’s probably not enough to make her a liability in and of itself.  Brewer is a hardliner on immigration, though, and that could complicate Romney’s efforts to woo the Latino vote away from Obama.  It might also provide him some cover to back Marco Rubio’s upcoming efforts on immigration reform by solidifying his credentials as a borders-first candidate.

The choice depends on whether Romney feels the need for a game-changer in late summer.  If the winds are already blowing favorably, Romney’s not likely to take a risk in selecting a running mate, and will go with a candidate who matches up well with himself.  If Romney needs more unity from the base, though, he may consider an outside-the-box choice of a candidate who has already been battle-tested against the administration — and that could put Brewer and Rick Perry in play.


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