If Mitt Romney wins tonight – who will be his VP pick?


3:32 pm - January 21st 2012

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contribution by Frank Spring

Mitt Romney is so close to the nomination he can taste it. Barring something genuinely strange, South Carolina is his and he’ll effectively have won the nomination.

Like the dog chasing the bus, he will have to figure out what to do with it once he’s caught it. A big part of that will be deciding on his running mate. His choice of VP is important for two reasons. The first is that it will reflect the broader strategy Romney employs in his effort to defeat Barack Obama.

The second is that it gives his choice an immediate advantage in 2016 in the event the 2012 ticket does not unseat the President.

His focus will be on picking a running mate who can help him win (and, at least in theory, also help him govern).

On the list (or should be):

Marco Rubio – U.S. Senator, Florida. Conventional wisdom has him as the top pick
Upside: His youth and ethnic heritage (Rubio is Cuban-American) are appealing counterparts to Romney’s much-parodied middle-aged blandness. The Tea Party likes him in a way they don’t much like Romney, and, most importantly, Rubio is well-liked in Florida, a state without which Romney will find it extremely difficult to win.

Downside: Contrary to what might be expected, Rubio appears a wash with Hispanic voters outside of Florida, about as many of whom say his appearance on the ticket will make them less likely to vote Republican as say it will make them more likely. This rather undercuts his utility, but he’s still the favourite.

Chris Christie – Governor, New Jersey.
Upside: Christie is the Republican Governor of a generally Democratic state; if Romney wants to appeal to moderate voters, he could find a worse ambassador than Christie, who does a good line in pragmatic conservatism. Could bog the Obama campaign down in New Jersey, a cruel political trick if ever there was one.

Downside: Christie had a severe bout of bad polling last summer, and although he has recovered somewhat, he seems to be one of those odd politicians that people seem to like less the more they see of him; he’d have to be a late announcement. He particularly seems to turn off women, which very likely rules him out.

Nikki Haley – Governor, South Carolina.
Upside: Energetic and personally appealing, Haley could help the Romney campaign shore up independent female voters. She can also galvanize the GOP Christian-right base around the country.

Downside: Like Christie, the more people see of her, the less they like her; her approval ratings in South Carolina are terrible, and still sinking. That’s not immediately relevant electorally (the Republican candidate will certainly win South Carolina), but it does raise a red flag.

Bob McDonnell: Governor, Virginia.
Upside: Hugely popular in a state Obama won in 2008, McDonnell would raise a great deal of money and galvanize the base.

Downside: Although it will be a fight, Obama is unlikely to win Virginia in 2012 anyway. It’s not clear how much McDonnell could open the race beyond white men
and the GOP base.

Rob Portman – U.S. Senator, Ohio.
Upside: Again, VP candidates are rarely selected because they come from a battleground state, but Romney might wish to rethink this. Portman handily won election to the Senate in 2010, beating his appointment by more than 20%; he could cause no end of trouble in the industrial states generally called the Rust Belt.

Downside: If Romney wants to widen the campaign beyond white, generally male voters in industrial states, Portman is not the pick to do it. He’s also a bit of a DC- insider, never a popular thing.

Paul Ryan: U.S. Congressman, Wisconsin.
Upside: Young and articulate, Ryan is the GOP’s intellectual chief and enforcer. He is particularly voluble and animated in criticism of the President’s health care reform, which might appeal to Romney given his own vulnerability on the subject from his days as Governor of Massachusetts. If Romney decides to take a hard run at the President on health care reform, Ryan is his guy.

Downside: Ryan is highly critical of any government involvement in health care, including Medicare. This is the third rail of American politics, and Ryan, at present, lives on it. On that basis, he’s a liability everywhere, including Wisconsin. He’ll get a look, but unless something changes, he’s an unlikely choice.

John Thune: U.S. Senator, South Dakota.
Upside: Considered a real political talent, Thune would be a good choice if Romney decides that the libertarian form of conservatism found in the Great Plains and the West will be a significant part of his campaign narrative.

Downside: It’s not clear how many states, if any, Thune would shift for Romney. He’d have particular appeal in Western states like Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico, as well as states with outdoor (particularly hunting) traditions like Michigan and Ohio, but it’s hard to predict how strongly voters will react to him given his limited exposure thus far.


Frank Spring is a director of Zentrum Consulting, a management and political consulting firm.

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Reader comments


Romney doesn’t have SC sown up — actually, FiveThirtyEight gives him only 14% chance of winning. Also, his nationwide poll lead is down. He’s still the favourite, but it’s no longer inevitable.

(correction) — Sorry, my mistake, FiveThirtyEight gives him 18%, not 14%. http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/21/gingrich-is-well-positioned-as-south-carolina-votes/

How dramatically would that list change if Gingrich won?

Surely the Republicans can’t do better than readopt Sarah Palin as the VP candidate:
http://en.zappinternet.com/video/FoTcFukYog/Candidata-Sarah-Palin-en-Banador

I’m predicting Newt Gingrich wins tonight.

I also think Ron Paul will come last… and Santorum third. Santorum had a strong debate performance on Thursday.

I would’ve thought John Huntsman was a possibility but maybe not

This race feels very short. Is it a consequence of rule changes or the media declaring that the event is over?

Romney won’t win tonight. Gingrich will win tonight. South Carolina is the most conservative state in the union. They hate niggers, and Newt has used all the anti nigger rhetoric he can. He called the president the ” food stamp president.” That is what is calld a dog whistle. Everyone kno2s what he means. Niggers get food stamps.

Of course he should not win in a state that is full of Christian moral voters. He left his first wife on her death bed. Then after screwing his next mistress for years demanded and open marriage from his second wife. He left her when she said no.

He was a Baptist, but then became a Catholic. He is full of shit. But he hates niggers. That will win him this race.

9. So Much For Subtlety

I am sorry, it is rare for me to object to anything anyone says, but is there really a need for that sort of language Sally?

@8. Sally: “They hate niggers…”

Everyone in South Carolina is racist?

“…and Newt has used all the anti nigger rhetoric he can. He called the president the ” food stamp president.” That is what is calld a dog whistle.”

And you don’t know what a dog whistle means? It describes a subtle political message that is difficult to define. Talking about a “food stamp President” is about as subtle as farting in a suit of armour.

11. So Much For Subtlety

Mitt Romney is so close to the nomination he can taste it. Barring something genuinely strange, South Carolina is his and he’ll effectively have won the nomination.

So Mitt didn’t win, Newt did. This is not surprising. Romney has not been able to get his figures above about a third of the vote for months and months and months. Everyone else wanted a Not-Mitt. They thought Perry was going to be their Not-Mitt but he flopped. Then it was Cain. Now it is Newt’s turn to be Not-Mitt. If he has lasted long enough, he will be the last Not-Mitt standing and he will get the nomination.

In which case who will be his VP? Well I noticed Perry dropped out just before South Carolina – where he should have done well. Maybe Perry hated Romney so much that he was willing to sacrifice himself to get him. Just as Huckabee hated Romney so much he stayed in the race to make sure it went to McCain last time around. Possibly. But Newt is too Northern. Too intellectual. Too arrogant. And with the morals of, well, a Washington lobbyist. He needs someone to balance his ticket. Someone, say, Southern. Someone who appeals to the Evangelicals. Someone a bit normal. Want to bet that Newt’s people have been talking to Perry’s people and that Perry is offered the VP slot?

They have called it for Gingrich. Rather proves my point. I am sorry if 9 gets all pearl clutching. But I wanted you to see what this state is all about. In 1999 MCains campaign blew up when rumours went around that he had fathered a black baby. It was bullshit and had been put out their by Karl Rove.

Later it was explained that McCain had adopted a Vietnamese child. But that was enough.

I don’t use the N word because that is how I talk. But it is how the Conservatives see black people. Gingrich played to that dynamic. In South Carolina, that works fine.

13. So Much For Subtlety

10. Charlieman

Talking about a “food stamp President” is about as subtle as farting in a suit of armour.

Although in all fairness, Obama has seen a massive expansion in the number of people getting Food Stamps. Well beyond anything you would think the economy had caused. They have clearly loosened up eligibility. Which was already absurd. I forget the exact figures but when Food Stamps were introduced something like 400,000 people qualified. Now something like 40% of the country does.

14. Leon Wolfeson

@13 – It can’t be that the economic divide is getting bigger, and hence more people qualify.

Wait, it is!

The only clear thing is you’d prefer people to starve. The UK needs a similar program, on the contrary…

Actually more white people are on food stamps than blacks. But Gincrich knows all the racist dog whistles out their. He understand the republican base.

3 times married , and Catholic should have no chance with Christian Conservatives. But hating black people trumps values in the republican south.

16. So Much For Subtlety

12. Sally

They have called it for Gingrich. Rather proves my point.

What point? Romney has spent his entire life as a member of a Church that did not accept African-Americans as equals – they bore the Mark of Cain. They only stopped making that claim in 1979 or so and allowed Blacks full membership of the Church of Latter Day Saints. That is, Romney spent his early adult life in a Church – and supporting a Church through missionary work – that discriminated against Blacks. If race was an issue it would work for Romney too.

I am sorry if 9 gets all pearl clutching. But I wanted you to see what this state is all about.

All you have done is show us what you’re about.

In 1999 MCains campaign blew up when rumours went around that he had fathered a black baby. It was bullshit and had been put out their by Karl Rove.

Later it was explained that McCain had adopted a Vietnamese child. But that was enough.

I doubt it was 1999. Wasn’t it the last campaign? And the baby wasn’t Vietnamese but Bangladeshi I seem to recall.

However you also fail to note that was it Strom Thurmond had an illegitimate child with a Black woman. Didn’t hurt his chances one bit. You need to get out more and so realise the world does not conform to your fantasies.

I don’t use the N word because that is how I talk.

Are you sure? My Grandmother loved to condemn the use of bad words. In doing so, she made sure she said them all, especially those connected with faeces. Fascination is an odd subject isn’t it Sally?

But it is how the Conservatives see black people. Gingrich played to that dynamic. In South Carolina, that works fine.

How do you know they do? They are not Conservatives either. And Newt did not play to that. He did not have to. He probably would have lost if he did. Notice that Romney got about what he has got everywhere – a third of the vote. Either all Americans are racist or SC is not.

16 You are full of shit….

” On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede; four months later Confederate forces in Charleston fired the opening shots of the Civil War on the U asnion garrison at Fort Sumter, and South Carolina even threatened to secede from the Confederacy because the other southern states would not agree to reopening the slave trade. Soon after the state’s chapter of the Ku Klux Klan formed, “red shirt” Democratic rifle clubs used physical intimid cation and ballot manipulation to alter results of the 1876 election. In the 1890s, Governor Ben “Pitchfork” Tillman–who earned his nickname by threatening to stab President Grover Cleveland in the ribs with said implement–served two terms as governor before embarking on a twenty-three-year Senate career during which he defended segregation as vigilantly as his fellow Edgefield County native, Strom Thurmond, later did for most of his career.

Well int On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede; four months later Confederate forces in Charleston fired the opening shots of the Civil War on the Union garrison at Fort Sumter, and South Carolina even threatened to secede from the Confederacy because the other southern states would not agree to reopening the slave trade. Soon after the state’s chapter of the Ku Klux Klan formed, “red shirt” Democratic rifle clubs used physical intimidation and ballot manipulation to alter results of the 1876 election. In the 1890s, Governor Ben “Pitchfork” Tillman–who earned his nickname by threatening to stab President Grover Cleveland in the ribs with said implement–served two terms as governor before embarking on a twenty-three-year Senate career during which he defended segregation as vigilantly as his fellow Edgefield County native, Strom Thurmond, later did for most of his career.

Well into the twentieth century, South Carolina’s black citizens observed the Fourth of July mostly alone because the vast majority of whites refused to, preferring instead to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day, May 10. State politicians repeatedly averted their eyes as textile industry executives employed children and quashed attempts by mill workers to organize for fair wages. In 1920, the South Carolina legislature rejected the proposed women’s suffrage amendment and took almost a half century finally to ratify it, in 1969. In 1948, the same year the South Carolina legislature declared President Harry Truman’s new civil rights commission “un-American,” Thurmond’s full-throated advocacy of racial segregation as the States’ Rights Democratic Party presidential nominee helped him carry four Deep South states. Six years later, the Clarendon County school district–where per-pupil spending on whites was quadruple that for blacks–was pooled with three other districts in a failed defense of the “separate but equal” standard in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. And when Congress passed the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the law that finally banned the creative and vicious methods used to disfranchise blacks, South Carolina became the first state to challenge its constitutionality. By 1968 Harry Dent, the most legendary of Thurmond’s political proteges and a key artchitect of the “southern strategy,” was helping Richard Nixon translate racial antagonisms into crucial Republican votes, a victory in South Carolina, and a ticket to the White House.

If all of this seems like so much ancient history, consider that South Carolinians are still debating the merits of public displays of the Confederate battle flag. Indeed, more than a few pundits believe Republican David Beasley won the 1994 governor’s race in part because of his pledge to support displaying the Confederate flag over the state capitol–then promptly lost his 1998 reelection bid later after a “religious epiphany” caused him to reverse position. After two decades of adverse judicial rulings, in 2000 Bob Jones University, the state’s largest private liberal arts college, founded by its anti-Catholic namesake, finally ended its policy of prohibiting interrracial dating. Last year, South Carolina was sued for issuing “choose life” vanity plates while refusing the same option to pro-choice citizens, justifying its decision by claiming that the anti-abortion message constitutes protected government speech. Today, more than eight decades after women first won the right to vote, the South Carolina state legislature is the only one in America where women do not hold at least 10 percent of all seats.

Other Deep South states may stake their own claims, but South Carolina is America’s most conservative state. From a strictly constitutional-historical standpoint, its legacy of firsts and lasts reads like a rap sheet: first to overturn a provincial government during the revolutionary period; last to abandon the Atlantic slave trade; first to call for nullifying the Constitution’s federal authority; first to secede from the Union; last to abolish the white primary; first to litigate against the intregration of public schools and challenge the Voting Rights Act. Whenever America finds itself at some social or political crossroad and in need of direction, perhaps the best things to do is ask, “What would South Carolina do?” And then do the opposite. o the twentieth century, South Carolina’s black citizens observed t the Fourth of July mostly alone because the vast majority of whites refused to, preferring instead to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day, May 10. State politicians repeatedly averted their eyes as textile industry executives employed children and quashed attempts by mill workers to organize for fair wages. In 1920, the South Carolina legislature rejected the proposed women’s suffrage amendment and took almost a half century finally to ratify it, in 1969. In 1948, the same year the South Carolina legislature declared President Harry Truman’s new civil rights commission “un-American,” Thurmond’s full-throated advocacy of racial segregation as the States’ Rights Democratic Party presidential nominee helped him carry four Deep South states. Six years later, the Clarendon County school district–where per-pupil spending on whites was quadruple that for blacks–was pooled with three other districts in a failed defense of the “separate but equal” standard in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. And when Congress passed the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the law that finally banned the creative and vicious methods used to disfranchise blacks, South Carolina became the first state to challenge its constitutionality. By 1968 Harry Dent, the most legendary of Thurmond’s political proteges and a key artchitect of the “southern strategy,” was helping Richard Nixon translate racial antagonisms into crucial Republican votes, a victory in South Carolina, and a ticket to the White House.

If all of this seems like so much ancient history, consider that South Carolinians are still debating the merits of public displays of the Confederate battle flag. Indeed, more than a few pundits believe Republican David Beasley won the 1994 governor’s race in part because of his pledge to support displaying the Confederate flag over the state capitol–then promptly lost his 1998 reelection bid later after a “religious epiphany” caused him to reverse position. After two decades of adverse judicial rulings, in 2000 Bob Jones University, the state’s largest private liberal arts college, founded by its anti-Catholic namesake, finally ended its policy of prohibiting interrracial dating. Last year, South Carolina was sued for issuing “choose life” vanity plates while refusing the same option to pro-choice citizens, justifying its decision by claiming that the anti-abortion message constitutes protected government speech. Today, more than eight decades after women first won the right to vote, the South Carolina state legislature is the only one in America where women do not hold at least 10 percent of all seats.

Other Deep South states may stake their own claims, but South Carolina is America’s most conservative state. From a strictly constitutional-historical standpoint, its legacy of firsts and lasts reads like a rap sheet: first to overturn a provincial government during the revolutionary period; last to abandon the Atlantic slave trade; first to call for nullifying the Constitution’s federal authority; first to secede from the Union; last to abolish the white primary; first to litigate against the intregration of public schools and challenge the Voting Rights Act. Whenever America finds itself at some social or political crossroad and in need of direction, perhaps the best things to do is ask, “What would South Carolina do?” And then do the opposite.

18. So Much For Subtlety

17. Sally

16 You are full of shit….

And you cut-n-paste reply is completely irrelevant. Do you have anything to say that refers in any way to what I said? No? Sure? Thought not.

Any possible chance we could use this thread to discuss how the game has changed now that Gingrich has won South Carolina? Particularly how this now boosts Obama’s re-election chances as Gingrich and Romney will (hopefully!) spend months giving each other a kicking.

Sally @16 – I would give you a detailed reply to your comment but I haven’t read it and don’t intend to. I suggest you google the acronym tl:dr

“Do you have anything to say that refers in any way to what I said? No? Sure? Thought not.”

Am I receiving that script correctly: Any criticism of Republicans, especially Newt Gingrich, is irrelevant to the issue of who should be the next US President?

Of course, any criticism of Democrats, especially Barak Obama, is permissible or even welcome.

Amen

Btw wasn’t it Newt Gingrich, as speaker of the House of Representatives, who orchestrated the impeachment of President Clinton? I was much engaged in debates in American forums at the time. The curious thing was that Clinton’s approval ratings while the impeachment proceedings dragged on remained at around 60pc.

“Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said . . that it wasn’t hypocritical of him to lead impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton in the 1990’s, even though he was having an extramarital affair at the time, because the impeachment case was ‘not about personal behavior.'”
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20047821-503544.html

Tell me the old, old story . . .


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