The Hill and its Fortuño fetishism
posted at 2:52 pm on April 15, 2012 by Jorge Bonilla
Rick Santorum’s withdrawal was supposed to have signaled the beginning of the general election, and the end of this cycle’s silly season. However, there is still an open spot on the Republican ticket, still news cycle to be filled with speculation, and still deadlines to be met…come rain, hail, sleet, or snow.
Until now, I had seen no need to address this fantasy indulged by the D.C.-and-New York-bassed kommentariat, which seems intent on pushing the Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño, for the Vice Presidential nod. Despite this insistence, I don’t think Fortuño so much as cracks the short list. Such pieces as these, most recently from The Hill, are not just purely speculative media mind-dealing, they also serve to expose the ignorance of those who are supposed to deliver fact-based analysis.
There is no doubt, given Fortuño’s track record, that Gov. Mitt Romney is right to call him “a solid conservative and a firm leader.” However, I don’t think that neccesarily builds Fortuño’s case for running mate.
The end of any seriousness in The Hill’s piece begins with the notion that Fortuño’s presence would help the party’s Hispanic outreach efforts. As I’ve noted previously, the coveted “Hispanic vote” is not a monoblock that can be reached with a single message. Those who think so are usually the ones that have been clamoring for Marco Rubio’s addition to the ticket, as well (despite his continual rejections of the VP nod). In theory, Fortuño’s impact would likely limit itself to the I-4 corridor, which would be redundant given John Quiñones’ run in FL-9 (and, to a lesser extent, Col. E.J. Otero’s run in Tampa). In the Northeast, Hispanic voters are used to (and used to voting against) Hispanic candidates. In the West, there is no factual basis with which to assume that a Hispanic conservative would necessarily bring substantial votes, especially now that Gov. Susana Martínez has tapped out from VP consideration (other than maybe Rubio, I can’t see it).
Fortuño’s executive and Congressional experience best qualifies him to lead Puerto Rico through its particular self-inflicted fiscal challenges, but isn’t a good fit for the Vice Presidency at this crucial historical juncture. Romney’s running mate is going to have to be able to hit the lame-duck session on the run, and this lame-duck is big enough to choke a horse. There will be ObamaCare SCOTUS fallout, regardless of the ruling. In addition, there is a transition whichc hands off the winding-down of two wars…and oh, by the way, Taxmageddon is looming. This particular transition requires a mastery of the tax and budgeting process that I’m not sure whether Fortuño has attained as Resident Commissioner in Washington, and Tourism Secretary and Governor of Puerto Rico.
Any other election cycle, and Fortuño is definitely on the short list. But not this one. Given the magnitude of the mess that is going to need cleaning up, and the need for a clean vetting, I think Romney will play it safe and go with three budget nerds on his short list. Of these, I expect Jindal to show, Ryan to place, and Portman to win.
A Spanish-language version of this post is available at El Tercer Riel (The Third Rail).