The GOP Vice Presidential contest is heating up

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

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9 thoughts on “The GOP Vice Presidential contest is heating up

  1. Sid says:

    Mr.Jindal is indeed Catholic and conservative, but he has been a disappointment to those of us in Louisiana who supported this man and his promises to get rid of the good ole boy network and bring about needed reforms. Unfortunately he and his handlers are more interested in climbing the political ladder than making good on his promises. He has taken credit for things that have played out to completion. He has taken credit for getting rid of some taxes after supporting them. he crushes those who disagree with him, but he never gets his hands bloody. He would not be a good choice for VP, judge him after his term in office to see if he has substance or just a great propaganda team.

  2. Andrew says:

    WHOAAAA…. what happened to Bob McDonnel, the hugely popular conservative Catholic governor of an important swing state? We would miss him in Virginia, but since our governors are limited to one term they all make the jump across the Potomac sooner or later anyway. He is near the end of his term and has solidly conservative LG and AG to replace him. As leader of the GOP governors he has good fundraising capabilities, too.

  3. Loves O.L. of Akita says:

    Go Bobby Jindal! A curry in every pot!

    Seriously, he’s young, Catholic, and intelligent. A great foil to oldish, Mormon and shrewd.

  4. Kevin J says:

    What do Ryan supporters make of his support for ENDA? It would give civil rights protections to sexual orientation and identity, effectively killing off any institutional opposition to gay rights and the redefinition of marriage.

    1. Joe M says:

      My understanding of ENDA is that it has nothing to do with the definition of marriage. It prevents employment discrimination by nonreligious institutions on the basis of sexual orientation. — There is some debate over whether or not that type of law is good. But, it would not be inconsistent with Catholic Social Teaching which states [regarding gay people]: “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

      1. Kevin J says:

        I get the feeling that the catechism’s language would look much different if it were written today.

        ENDA has been opposed by the USCCB.

        Then-Cardinal Ratzinger addressed the issue in his 1992 CDF document “SOME CONSIDERATIONS
        CONCERNING THE RESPONSE TO LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS
        ON THE NON-DISCRIMINATION OF HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS.”

        ENDA has everything to do with redefining marriage. Traditional marriage is regarded as discriminatory by SSM activists. If you make all institutions fight discrimination, then they’ll end up being more likely to treat traditionalists as bigots. ENDA requires all businesses to be pro-gay rights.

        1. Joe M says:

          Kevin J. I would be curious to learn what the USCCB said/wrote about the subject. Can you quote it directly or provide a link? — Not discriminating against an employee due to their sexual identity does not make a business pro gay rights. It simply means that they don’t treat that as a factor regarding the work they do. It’s that persons private business. — I don’t think that the gay lifestyle is good for people. However, I don’t think that it makes them unable to do good work. I don’t think they should be prevented from working for a living. Do you?

  5. Timothy says:

    Well done Steve

  6. Barbara Swisher says:

    I hope Romney chooses Paul Ryan. He’s a constitutionalist and his work regarding the budget has been inspiring. I’m not big on Jindal. I hope he’s not on the short list. I do like Christy, I think we as Republicans need to speak up more and stop being run over by liberals. Christy just speaks the truth, he’s not PC and that’s a refreshing change. There’s no mistaking his meaning when he addresses a topic. I like the man.
    The main thing is let’s do everything we can to get Obama out and Romney in. This country can’t take 4 more years of Obama.

    Barbara Swisher

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