In an article headlined “Republicans Find Fresh Voice on Gender Issue,” Roll Call’s Jonathan Strong reveals the purported vice presidential aspirations of Washington Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the only female member of Republican House leadership.
While McMorris Rodgers herself reportedly told Roll Call that the vice presidency is not even on her radar, a handful of supporters think she could be Mitt Romney’s ticket to the White House. Strong writes:
A common sentiment communicated to Roll Call in background and off-the-record conversations is that McMorris Rodgers offers appeal to female voters, and, because of her background, to blue-collar voters. …
McMorris Rodgers is one of at least three top female candidates Romney’s team could consider, with the others being New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
Neither Martinez nor Ayotte have spent much time in front of the public eye, which a GOP leadership aide said could lead to problems: “Exhibit A: Sarah Palin.”
The aide described McMorris Rodgers as “Republican woman version 3.0.” Palin was charismatic and conservative but wilted under the spotlight. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann was charismatic and conservative but highly polarizing. McMorris Rodgers strikes a balance of conservatism, experience and effective messaging, the thinking goes.
Other GOP operatives are less enthusiastic, putting McMorris Rodgers’ chances at actually securing the VP nod at one in 1,000. Still others posit that whatever buzz surrounds McMorris Rodgers at this point is as much about raising her national profile to facilitate her ascent in the House than about truly competing for the vice presidency.
Personally, I’m resistant to the idea that Romney should pick a female vice presidential nominee for the sake of appealing to female voters. As has been oft-remarked over the past week, female voters are not monolithic and individual female voters are not necessarily looking to elect a mirror image of themselves. We just want the best possible president and the best possible vice president. If the best possible VP selection is a woman, great. If not, that’s OK, too. Furthermore, the arbitrary selection of a woman as VP might just keep the gender issue front and center when other issues should be.
The Roll Call piece, though, serves as a reminder that the Republican Party is large, with many of its key players relatively unknown to the nation. Romney’s search for a vice presidential running mate not only serves as an opportunity for him to select an electoral partner who will improve his chances at winning the presidency but also as an opportunity for the GOP electorate to better get to know our representatives in Congress and in governor’s mansions across the country.