Soon everyone will have a vice president list for Mitt Romney. The National Journal has its own today with some familiar names (e.g., New Jersey’s Chris Christie). I don’t doubt these are the names that are being talked about, but I’d warn Romney against several of the candidates.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the other day that he wasn’t interested in and would not be the nominee. Let’s take him at his word. The GOP spent a great deal of time chasing the hard-to-get presidential candidates, which only made the actual contenders look like week-old leftovers. The GOP should be wary of reluctant contenders and focus on those who actually want to run and serve.
Second, the election is likely to turn on industrial swing states. So why not add to the list some feistier names with proven track record of appeal to blue-collar voters and conservative principles? Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both fit the bill. (Toomey, the author of a tax plan to increase revenues, would drive the left nuts.)
Third, National Journal’s list is heavy on bland and on those who add little either in personality or electoral appeal to the ticket. Does the GOP really need a boring green eye-shade guy with isolationist-leanings (Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels) or a vice president who can’t throw a punch (e.g., Tim Pawlenty)?
And while Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez are solid Southwesterners, why not a well-known and rock-solid Republican like Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.)?
In sum, Romney, as I have argued before, should resist the urge to go boring and to play it safe. Such a running mate will project timidity and accentuate concerns in the base. That does not mean selecting an unqualified candidate. The Romney camp, rather, should be looking for conservative fighters, not safe nothing-burgers.