Of course, each of these choices carries varying degrees of risk. Jindal’s unstinting social conservatism could turn off women, Rubio faces murmurs about ties to ethically-tainted Florida politicians, Christie’s Jersey bluntness may not play well in other parts of the country, and Ayotte is untested on the national stage. But the reality is that the so-called safe picks – Pawlenty and Portman – offer just as much risk, if not more. Their biggest risk is that they don’t offer Romney much other than the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Establishment Approval.
Romney holds a fundamental advantage over President Obama in the November election: He controls his own destiny. Obama already has used up most of his best attack ads against Romney and is merely hoping that the economy doesn’t get any worse. He’s largely at the mercy of forces beyond his control now. Most voters have already made up their minds about him. But by picking a talented running mate and delivering a winning convention acceptance speech, Romney has the opportunity to convince the skeptics and redefine the election.