As we wait for Mitt Romney to pick his running mate in the next few weeks, the last successful GOP running mate has been privately advising the current GOP nominee and the head of his VP search committee, Beth Myers. Cheney believes that the #2 slot has to be filled with someone ready to take over the top job on Day 1 — and that John McCain flunked that test in 2008. In an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Cheney called the selection of Sarah Palin “a mistake”:
Cheney would not comment on what he told Romney and Myers, but he was harsh in his assessment of McCain’s decision to pick Palin.
“That one,” Cheney said, “I don’t think was well handled.”
“The test to get on that small list has to be, ‘Is this person capable of being president of the United States?’”
Cheney believes Sarah Palin failed that test.
“I like Governor Palin. I’ve met her. I know her. She – attractive candidate. But based on her background, she’d only been governor for, what, two years. I don’t think she passed that test…of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.”
Whoo-ee! Both Palin and Cheney are beloved by the conservative base, so I’m not sure which will get beat up more over this commentary. I’d guess that the Left is passing the popcorn this morning.
Rather than focus on that, what does this say about Cheney’s advice to Romney and Myers? Using this framework, names like Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, Susana Marinez, Nikki Haley, and perhaps even Bob McDonnell (governor for two and a half years) have to come off of Cheney’s short list. Names like Rob Portman, Bobby Jindal, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Perry would remain on the list. With Romney’s deep background as an executive, that quality was almost certainly his foremost consideration, too, so Cheney’s advice would only reinforce Romney’s instincts here. Plus, it doesn’t look like Romney will need a game-changing VP pick to make up ground against a popular incumbent, so the need to roll the dice will be low.