After yesterday's kerfuffle regarding Rubio's status on the short list of VP contenders, I thought it was time to put some thoughts together on the subject. My belief is that Romney needs to find someone who is to the right of him (to appease conservatives) and has a sufficient amount of administrative experience that the GOP can highlight how Obama's inexperience led to bungle the last 4 years. Finding someone who might help Romney carry a battleground state or increase vote percentages within certain demographics would be gravy, though its unclear how much the VP slot actually helps with those:
Marco Rubio - I like Marco Rubio. He ran a wonderful insurgent campaign against the RINO Charlie Crist and won a race that excited many in the Tea Party. He's a bona fide conservative and a great speaker, what's not to like? Well, a couple of things. First, he is a Senator not a Governor so he has very limited administrative experience. Also, he has only been Senator since 2011, which after extensive research I have concluded is the year before this one. There would be a big question in the media whether he is ready to take the mantle if anything happens to Romney. I realize Obama got a pass in this regard but the media is biased (duh) and look where voting in someone so inexperienced got us. Could he make up for any weakness on that account by the number of Latinos who might vote Republican? I'm not sure. Rubio isn't Mexican, he is Cuban, and from what I can tell their special refugee status has led to a lot of resentment amongst the Latino community. He might not lead to as much of a bump amongst this much desired ethnic group as people think (Brian Sandoval, who is Mexican, would be better in this regard). Rubio is only 41, there is no need to rush to get him on a ticket. I say we save him for 2020 or so when he is more seasoned and experienced.
Rob Portman - It seems he has two things going for him, he is boring and he is from Ohio, other than that I don't see why Romney would want to pick him. First, he isn't very conservative. His lifetime ACU rating is only 88 and in 2011 he had an abysmal 75, which is lower than John McCain's (he got an 80), thanks to some pro-Union votes from Portman. I don't think the right will be terribly happy with Portman being the VP. Also, he isn't really an administrator, with the only experience he has in this regard coming from 2 years he spent in the W administration (not something you want to have on your resume). Unless Romney wants to be painted as someone who just wants to bring back the W years (anathema to liberals and conservatives alike), he will avoid Rob Portman.
Tim Pawlenty - Full disclosure, I was a Pawlenty supporter at the beginning of the primary cycle so if I thought he would have been a good President, I definitely think he would make a great VP. He's a two term Governor from a liberal state who was still able to receive an A from the Cato Fiscal Policy Report Card in 2010, one of only four Governors to do so. He also can counter the "Republicans are a party of the rich" argument pretty easily. His dad drove a milk truck, his mom died when he was 16 and he was the only one of his siblings to attend college. He is a smart, sensible politician who nobody would worry about being one heartbeat away from the Presidency. The Romney campaign already finds him to be a dependable go-to surrogate. He has appeal for the right, for moderates, for blue collar workers and anybody who wants a competent manager, what is not to like? The only drawback is that he probably won't even be able to help Romney carry Minnesota. Even though he was re-elected, he benefited from a 3 way race and never actually received more than 46.4% of the vote.
Paul Ryan - He is a superstar, so much so that I don't think anyone would care that he is just a Congressman. The problem for Romney though would be that he is too much of a superstar and overshadow him (heck, many would have preferred Ryan at the top of the ticket to Romney). He has more charisma and came out with a detailed plan to reform our budget so Romney might actually get more questions on Ryan's plan than his own. Presidential candidates don't like being overshadowed and so I think Romney will probably end up passing on this one.
Chris Christie - While he talks conservative, he is much more moderate than people think on a variety of issues. So it's unclear whether he would help matters with conservatives. Also, he has only been Governor for 2 years and before that he was just a US Attorney so he probably doesn't have the experience necessary for the VP slot. I think we should keep him on the bench, he could prove more useful in later races when he has more experience under his belt.
Bobby Jindal - He is a wunderkind. When he was just 25 years old he was appointed Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, which represented 40% of the state budget. During his tenure, the Louisiana Medicaid program went from bankruptcy to 3 straight years of surpluses. He also has a successful record as a two term Governor of Louisiana with the Cato Institute giving him one of only 4 A's in their Fiscal Policy Report Card of 2010. Between that and the fact he was a Perry supporter in the primaries, he is very popular with conservatives. His one and only drawback was that he messed up his only chance on the national stage so far when he flubbed the Republican Response to the State of the Union in 2009. Some of it was simply delivery which I think can be coached away. Regardless of his delivery, few would think he isn't ready to take over if necessary.
Bob McDonnell - The Governor of Virginia is popular and a competent administrator in a battleground state. However, he has two problems. First, he might actually widen the gender gap. In his 1989 thesis he said that working women were detrimental to the family. Also he recently signed a bill that required ultrasounds before abortions. The two together will be used against him to scare women from voting for the GOP. Also, McDonnell, like Christie, has only been in office since 2010 so his experience as an administrator is somewhat lacking. However, since Virginia has a 1 term limit, McDonnell would have to find an administrative position outside of the Governorship to build his resume to rectify this. Anyway, while McDonnell is a pretty good choice for VP, it probably would be better for Romney to pass on this one.
Jeb Bush - Not another Bush. Not. Ever.
Brian Sandoval - The Governor of Nevada has a few things going for him. First, he was a former judge and an Attorney General, something that suggests competence. Second, his family is Mexican, so he might be better for the ticket than Marco Rubio in that regard. And finally, Nevada is a battleground state, one with only 6 electoral votes but a battleground nonetheless. The big weakness that he has is that he only took office in 2011, so, once again, we are left with wondering whether he is ready to be one heartbeat away from the Presidency. Here is another one we might want to leave for future races (it's nice to know though that we seem to have a deep bench).
Susana Martinez - The Governor of New Mexico has been brought up as a potential candidate in the past mainly because she is a woman and has a Mexican background. But once again, we come up with the dreaded reality of the fact that she has very limited experience. Like Sandoval and Rubio, she only took office last year so she has almost zero administrative experience. Before that, she was just a district attorney.
And there you have it. Sorry if I left out anybody who is your favorite. I generally didn't look at too many Senators as I think they would be a detriment to the ticket, especially when we have quality Governors to choose from. In there end, I think Romney should choose someone like Tim Pawlenty or Bobby Jindal to be his VP. Both are competent administrators who can draw a real distinction with how a Romney administration would differ from the last 4 disastrous years. Plus, with some grooming and some time in the national spotlight, both could be great Presidential candidates in their own right down the line.