Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney continues to offer few clues about the identity of his vice presidential pick or the timing of the announcement — “I don’t think I have anything for you on the VP running mate,” Romney told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday — but with the Republican National Convention just 17 days away, we know the decision is close.
Below are our rankings of the five men — yes, they are all men — most likely to get the nod from Romney. These rankings are a combination of reporting, buzz and gut — all in relatively equal measure.
The number one ranked candidate is considered Romney’s most likely VP pick. To the Line!
5. Chris Christie: As we wrote last week, the New Jersey governor is clearly in the mix to be the pick although he is starting to look more like the Republican convention keynote speaker than the vice presidential selection. If Romney prizes competence/readiness over every other character trait, Christie’s relatively thin resume — he’s only been governor since 2009 — could ultimately be disqualifying. (Previous ranking: 5)
4. Tim Pawlenty: It might just be us but the former Minnesota governor has a sort of “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” vibe to him. (Pawlenty was the runner-up to be Arizona Sen. John McCain’s VP pick in 2008.) Pawlenty has done literally everything asked of him by the Romney campaign and, by all accounts, has a strong relationship with the candidate. But, isn’t Pawlenty’s inability to excite voters during his own abbreviated presidential bid a worrisome sign for Romney insiders? (Previous ranking: 2)
3.Bobby Jindal: Jindal remains a little bit below the radar when it comes to Romney’s short(est) list but there is a very solid argument to be made that he makes the most sense. Young but with a deep resume, Indian-American, wonky and a governor to boot. One downside: Jindal endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential bid. But is Romney a grudge holder? (Previous ranking: 4)
2. Paul Ryan: The Wisconsin Republican is, without question, the buzziest candidate in the VP field. In the past few days, he’s been touted by a who’s who of the conservative movement — all of whom argue that he is the best choice to drive an issues-based contrast campaign against President Obama in the fall. Ryan, however, is relatively wet behind the ears politically (he’s held a seat in Congress since 1998) and picking him would immediately turn the election into a referendum on his controversial budget plan. (Previous ranking: 3)
1. Rob Portman: Slow and steady (often) wins the VP race. Portman, on paper, makes the most sense. He’s got a resume that reeks of competence and gets rave reviews for his understated political and policy know-how. Yes, Portman would allow President Obama to link Romney directly to the Bush Administration, which is something the former Massachusetts governor has worked very hard to avoid. But, no one on this list is perfect. (Previous ranking: 1)