Why would anyone? Ruffini wonders:
Mitt Romney is already in line to be the nominee in 4 years if McCain loses under the GOP Law of Primogeniture. Why would he want to muck it up with a VP run? If McCain loses, it is all downside for Mitt. People would forget all the positive aspects of his Presidential run and remember his role on a losing ticket. (See Edwards, John.)
And even if McCain wins, Romney would face a tough road getting elected in his own right. Republicans are already facing voter exhaustion after 8 years in power. Could they win a third or fourth consecutive election even if they manage to pull it out in ’08? The possibility grows progressively unlikelier.
Follow the link for a refresher on the dismal fate historically of VP candidates, especially losing VP candidates, who reach for the brass ring. Anyone want to try floating a plausible scenario by which we’d see a Bush/McCain/Romney succession, even if Maverick only serves one term? Three men from the same party haven’t been consecutively independently elected since Grant, Hayes, and Garfield during the post-Civil War Republican stranglehold on government. (I’m not counting McKinley/Roosevelt/Taft or Harding/Coolidge/Hoover since both sequences involved presidential deaths.) Good luck replicating that with public opinion about the GOP being what it is. The only way you could conceivably do it is if McCain’s presidency was both a dramatic break from Bush and phenomenally successful, transforming the dynamic from three Republicans in a row to old Republican/new Republican/new Republican. But how phenomenal is his success likely to be with heavy Democratic majorities in both houses?
All of which is another way of saying that if Mitt’s hellbent on the presidency, he needs McCain to lose — which, ironically, makes him the Hillary to Maverick’s Obama, albeit even more so. As such, there’s no reason to join the ticket but plenty of reason, as Ruffini notes, to surf the VP buzz to raise his national profile. Exit question one: Is it really this simple, though? Mitt’s enough of a Boy Scout that if McCain went to him and said he needs him on the ticket for the good of country, he probably couldn’t say no, whatever the consequences for his ambitions. And even if he does stay off the ticket and McCain loses, he’s not in some catbird-seat position for 2012. Maybe he starts off as presumptive frontrunner, but conservatives will be looking for something fresh and an aging, fabulously wealthy patrician white guy who’s consistently underperformed electorally doesn’t match up well with Jindal and Palin. Exit question two: Per Ruffini’s logic, why would anyone want to be on the ticket this year? Thanks to their youth, Jindal and Palin are marginally better positioned than Mitt to re-create themselves later if they lose as VP now, but why make their 2012 task any harder than it is? McCain might find himself stuck with some Jack Kemp-type figure who doesn’t have any strong national ambitions himself, doesn’t really expect to win this time, but doesn’t have much to lose by saying yes.