(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
The Romney campaign has floated the idea of choosing a runningmate well ahead of the late August Republican National Convention and speculation on who it might be has reached a fever pitch. It won’t be Condoleeza Rice, Matt Drudge’s credulous reporting notwithstanding. Here are seven possibilities.
The former Minnesota governor has it all, except for charisma. Maybe even that is a plus, since it means he won’t challenge the wooden top of the ticket for the limelight. He’s an evangelical. He’s from the Midwest. He’s reliably conservative and on his few apostasies, such as support for cap-and-trade, he has already abjectly apologized when he was briefly a presidential candidate himself. By quickly endorsing Romney and serving as a loyal surrogate for him, Pawlenty has curried favor in Romney’s camp. After being nearly selected as John McCain’s running mate, Pawlenty may finally get his turn.
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
When it comes to experience, Portman would seem to be the full package. He’s been a congressman, a US trade representative, a director of the Office of Management and Budget and is now a senator. He hails from the crucial swing state of Ohio. The only problem is that he worked in the Bush administration, and who wants to be reminded of that? Romney is emphasizing deficit reduction and Portman presided over some serious deficit spending at OMB. Meanwhile Romney is being hit for his record of offshoring jobs while at Bain Capital, and Portman did nothing to curb that as US trade representative Still, Romney appears to think he can win by running on Bush’s platform, so why not do it with a veteran of Bush’s tenure?
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Every conservative in the country loves Rubio, and maybe that’s the problem. Rubio is an immensely talented politician, an inspiring stump speaker who has an Obama-esque ability to turn his life into a patriotic story of America itself. The contrast with Romney could not be starker. Rubio’s parents are immigrants from Cuba, which Rubio loves to discuss. Or he used to. Rubio would claim they fled Castro’s Cuba, although it turns out they left before Castro took power and actually briefly returned afterwards. The Tea Party movement from across the country actively supported his Senate candidacy in 2010. The nationally obscure former Florida State Senate majority leader became a right wing icon. Many conservative leaders and pundits have talked up Rubio as a vice-presidential nominee. Republican candidates in the primaries, such as Romney and Newt Gingrich, praised Rubio and hinted that he’d be on their running mate shortlist. Rubio is Cuban-American, and he has sought to find a middle ground between the xenophobic right and the mainstream on immigration policy. So Republicans hope he would help reduce their deficit among Latinos.