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Right Turn
Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 04/16/2012

The VP process begins

The Washington Post reports: “On Monday, Romney said he had named Beth Myers, his longtime senior adviser, to lead his vice presidential search committee, even though he claimed it is ‘way too early to begin narrowing down who the potential vice presidential nominees might be.’

“For any nominee, the selection of a running mate is a vitally important political calculation: It could help swing a key state or voting demographic or reassure voters that a capable second is ready to take over if something happens.”

Myers is the logical choice to run the search which requires the candidate’s absolute trust, organizational skills, and political experience (to smell trouble, for one thing). Myers is, next to Ann, perhaps Romney’s closest advisor. Cynics will say that this might be a gambit to help him with women voter, but no voter in her right mind chooses a candidate based on whom he selects to run the VP search.

Actually, there probably was no one else in Romney’s circle as suited to the task. Myers was his chief of staff when he was governor and ran the 2008 campaign. If a chief of staff is supposed to ease decision-making and ensure the boss gets the full range of options, based on her previous experience, she is well-prepared for this assignment, which above all requires skill in rooting out information about interviewing the VPs, culling the herd and keeping the material and the entire process confidential.

As for the potential VPs, now is the time to put up or shut up. The ones who really aren’t interested will not waste their time and Myers’s by participating in the exhaustive vetting process.

As for the criteria, the biggest cliche in VP-selection — the most important thing is finding someone to step into the presidency, if need be — happens to be true. If someone is not obviously prepared, ready for the hot light of press scrutiny and capable of governance, everything else is immaterial. And to a large degree the other concerns (e.g. executive competence, discipline, judgment, center-right ideology) will be subsumed by a single question: Would the country feel comfortable with this person if he or she stepped into complete the Romney presidency?

From Romney’s standpoint, his natural caution and aversion to showboating will help him here. The VP pick is not the time to throw a Hail Mary, especially for a candidate who is selling himself on sober leadership. He should rightly be concerned with how he will work with this person so long as he holds the presidency. If he doesn’t trust and respect the person, it will be a disaster from the get-go.

President Obama resisted the calls to select Hillary Clinton as VP. He didn’t think he needed her to win the presidency (and was right about that). Romney should resist calls to be “bold” or to lock down a constituency with a given pick. He’d be wise to forget all that. Pick someone he’d feel comfortable with with the presidency and with whom he can work well. The rest is essentially irrelevant.

By  |  02:15 PM ET, 04/16/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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