Green Room

The Hill and its Fortuño fetishism

posted at 2:52 pm on April 15, 2012 by

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).

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I agree with you right up until you say “and portman to win”

I think Portman is just as ridiculously far-fetched a candidate as Fortuno. How can you pick a guy who is going to cause 99% of the voters to say “Who???”

political junkies may know who he is, but nobody else does. And as you say, that just ain’t gonna cut it this cycle.

Tom Servo on April 15, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Portman would be a gran mal mistake, and would cause America to have 4 more years of Obama.

UODuckMan on April 15, 2012 at 10:36 PM

Romney is going to pick Bob McDonnell of Virginia.

SouthernGent on April 16, 2012 at 1:52 AM

If you say Fortuño hasn’t “attained a mastery of the tax and budgeting process,” then your ignorance of Puerto Rican politics is showing. Whether you agree with Fortuño or not on his statehood stance (and I don’t), you have to admire his guts and ability to get things done. Whether we’re talking about the fact he laid of 30,000 government union workers (and managed the concomitant riots in the streets, including an egging on him personally), or you consider the fact that he lowered corporate taxes by 20% in a terrible recession, in a knee-jerk socialist electorate, or you consider that by cutting spending and freezing hires he managed to lower our deficit from $9 billion to $300 million without resorting to the tricks politicos are so fond of. He also sliced through 500 years of historical red tape to speed up licensing, permitting, and engineering of new projects and businesses, down from perhaps 5 to 8 years to a matter of weeks. There is no conservative/liberal divide here. Our politics is completely based around the Status Question. Every party is more or less Marxist in social and fiscal policy, as are most voters by instinct. Yet Fortuño has led the charge toward conservative and fiscal conservatancy here, led only perhaps by Scott Walker in Wisconsin. I’m proud of my governor, and I am going to vote for him, even though I did not last time. This guy is dodging fireballs that you all in the mainland have no clue about.

JoseQuinones on April 16, 2012 at 8:37 AM