Unlike his former boss, Dick Cheney has spent a lot of time wading into current events. I’d prefer that he kept his opinions to himself, but it’s understandable that a man who has worked in Washington for over 30 years wants to stay relevant.
He hit the media circuit after his memoir was published last August, but other than some conflicting reports about his relationship with Condoleezza Rice, political elites have paid relatively little attention to what the former Vice President has to say.
That might change after comments Cheney made in an interview this past weekend on ABC’s “This Week.” Speaking with Jon Karl, Cheney argued that John McCain’s decision to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate was a mistake.
“I like Governor Palin,” Cheney said, but “based on her background, I don’t think she passed that test… of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.”
That Palin was inexperienced on domestic and foreign policy was obvious to even the most uninformed voter. To be sure, Senator Obama was pretty green when it came to the same issues, but that’s beside the point. The fact of the matter is that Palin was a risky pick, and Cheney, to an extent, is right.
Now, it’s up to Governor Romney to select his running mate. It was reported a couple weeks ago that he was going to announce his choice before jetting off to the Olympics and the Middle East, but it’s apparent that the Governor is going to wait until after his trip to make the announcement.
Of the names being floated around, none of them, in my opinion, could be considered “a mistake.” Some are less attractive than others, but most of them would probably get Cheney’s (and Catholic) support.
Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana, is a convert to Catholicism and, according to The Atlantic, has risen to the top of the list in recent weeks. Being an Indian-American, Jindal would add some much needed diversity to the ticket. And his long history of working in the healthcare field could give Republicans a credible voice in the fight to repeal Obamacare. He has also criticized the Obama administration for the way they handled the BP oil spill and has been dubbed a potential presidential candidate in his own right in the near future. However, he is the Governor of Louisiana, a state that will vote for Romney no matter what, and his response to President Obama’s 2009 State of the Union address was downright awful.
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, on the other hand, is known for his ability to articulate the limited government message better than most. If placed on the ticket, Ryan, an outspoken Catholic who is familiar with the Church’s social teaching, may embolden on-the-fence Catholics to support the Republican Party come November. His much criticized Path to Prosperity budget tackles entitlement reform and addresses our growing national debt, and would give voters a clear choice in the direction of their country. The downside of choosing Ryan is that as a Congressman he doesn’t necessarily add any electoral college votes. Furthermore, if you make him VP you would be taking him out of the House, the place he is most effective. Democrats would also use his budget as a way to paint Romney as an out of touch rich guy who wants to push grandma off a cliff by taking away her Medicare and privatizing her Social Security.
To be honest, I’m not that familiar with Ohio Senator Rob Portman. He’s been included on literally everyone’s short list, but from 2006-2007 he served as President Bush’s Budget Director, a position where he oversaw increases in the size and scope of the federal government. He would give Romney a huge advantage when it comes to winning the much needed battleground state of Ohio, but the rub on Portman is that he’s too vanilla, and that he and Romney are too much alike. He’s also considered a Washington insider whose time as a Congressman may turn off Tea Party voters.
If Rob Portman is considered vanilla, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is vanilla-lite. Pawlenty’s short-lived run for the White House was driven by his appeal to blue-collar voters. But for some strange reason, he left the race when it was just about to turn in his favor. He came out as a Romney surrogate soon after, but his influence was marginal at best. Also, he could barely muster the courage to attack Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman in the GOP debates. His Minnesota-nice attitude is too plaintive for a race that is going to be one of the most grueling campaigns in recent memory. He won’t help Romney win any electoral college votes, either. I could be wrong about that, but isn’t Minnesota the state that made the uber-progressive Al Franken a Senator?
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have all been listed as possible VP candidates. However, I think they are all out of the running at this point. Even though Bush is urging Romney to pick Rubio, the likelihood that he will be the VP is diminishing. As a Catholic, he could attract the Catholic vote and would probably deliver Florida, but he is better off building an image in the Senate and running for national office sometime after 2020. After all, he is only 41 years old.
I really thought former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was going to run for president this time around. He is a convert to Catholicism, a former governor of an important swing state, and is well received by the Hispanic community. He is viewed as someone with leadership experience who very well may run for president in 2016. He has said no to a VP slot on multiple occasions so don’t count on him jumping on the Romney train anytime soon. However, if Romney wins, don’t be surprised to see him as the next Secretary of Education.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie could breathe some life into the Romney camp. His brash attitude can turn some voters off, but he would be a great contrast to the sometimes unemotional Mitt Romney. He was a favorite to win the VP slot early on, but team Romney has never really been known for making bold decisions. It was recently announced that Christie would be the keynote speaker at the GOP convention. To my knowledge, that slot is typically reserved for people who are not on the ticket. As a side note, he vetoed legislation that would have made same sex marriage legal in the state of New Jersey.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s name was floated as a possible VP pick just the other week. The reaction? Horrible. Everyone, and I mean, everyone, rebuked the possibility of a Romney-Rice ticket. She reeks of Bush-era conservatism and her social views make her unacceptable to the party base.
At this point, it seems unlikely that any of the early favorites – Bush, Christie, and Rubio – will be chosen. In all likelihood, it will be Romney-Ryan or Romney-Portman. Again, it’s all speculation at this point, but expect Governor Romney to make an announcement this week.
Stephen Kokx is an adjunct professor of political science and a featured columnist at RenewAmerica.com. Follow him on twitter @StephenKokx