I was replying to the excellent diary currently on the spotlight entitled "Veepasaurs! Who Will Survive; Who's Teetering On The Brink Of Extinction?" and the comment began to get really long, and I realized I had a lot to say on this.
So I have expanded my comment into a full fledged thought and I would like to share it with you all. First you should check out the diary that inspired this. It contains a very useful list of possible GOP VP candidates, in Dinosaur form. It is geeky fun in every awesome way possible.
Go ahead and check it out, then come right back and look below the fold.
Okay, remember in 2008 when all of this VP speculation had started? Many of these current shortlist names were on McCain's list as well. Yet McCain behind the scenes was trying to persuade his own people to let him choose Joe Lieberman. Lieberman for his part was not on hardly anyone's list of potentials for McCain. In those few instances where he was listed, it was as a long shot.
Yet McCain was lobbying hard for him. He was the #1 choice according to behind the scenes books and interviews that have since come out. So perhaps we cannot know. Perhaps it is impossible. It could be somebody who has zero name recognition but can fill some niche segment of the voting population Romney needs to shore up.
I hate personally hate the thought that Romney's choice is as a matter of probability unpredictable, because I pride myself on being pretty good at predicting these things. I predicted Edwards would be Kerry's running mate. I predicted Obama's would either be Hillary or Biden. In fairness that one was kind of obvious.
Personally I found McCain's selection of Palin very predictable. And I may have been the only one to do so.
Below are some excerpts from a Diary I wrote on August 18th 2008. In it I did profiles on all of the GOP VP short-listers but the largest segment was reserved for this still unknown, not yet announced, probably not yet even vetted Governor from Alaska. She was not on any shortlists in the media at this point.
I was amazed when I stumbled upon her that I had not heard of her before. I instantly knew that if McCain's people were aware that this woman existed, she would be on the ticket.
Here is the link to my old diary...
Sarah Palin: She's a very popular (80-90% approval rating), attractive, governor of Alaska. She has kind of an older Tina Faye thing going on.I turned out to be dead on with that one. I nailed the comparisons to Tina Fey, the rising star phenomenon that would engulf the campaign, I knew the moment I found her that she would be a force in the GOP for years once she broke out.
The upside for us? She's a little inexperienced for the job since she's only been governor of Alaska since 2006. Other than that, theres not much. She's good on the Environment and good on Gay issues (though her hand was forced) she is however firmly "pro-life" which doesn't help McCain's case with woman at all.
The downside? Out of all of the VP choices for McCain she is the one who could really help McCain the most in my view. This woman is destined for higher office and McCain may be her ticket to the top. Hopefully she's smart enough to realize McCain's campaign is already dead in the water and will simply sit this one out. If so we will have dodged a bullet but one way or another we will have to face off with this woman someday.
She's the first Woman ever elected as Governor of Alaska and she would be the first Woman ever elected as Vice President. Which despite her views on abortion; her charm and her potential to break glass ceilings could siphon off a good deal of female voters.
I didn't know she would be a force for evil, frustration and annoyance. I didn't know she would be a champion of the stupid and proud wing of the GOP. I did not know how dumb she personally was. I did not know how unpredictable she was. How unstable she was. I also did not know that she would be so inept at being in the public eye that after losing she would sabotage any future political ambitions by quitting her job as Governor and spending her days on Facebook.
Apparently McCain didn't know any of this either. She looked good on paper. But his campaign should have done a little more research than just reading the same stuff my Google Search for "Female GOP Politicians" turned up.
Apparently they did not.
My point is John McCain's trouble with female voters (that 19 point gap that cost him the election) was obviously his top concern when choosing a Vice Presidential nominee. That made the choice of this (at the time) popular and somewhat populist female Governor, a no brainer. There was no other female politician who could fill the role and no male politician who offered something McCain himself didn't already have.
This time around I don't know what to think. More importantly I don't know what to Google.
Romney has screwed up so many issues that there really is no one candidate that could repair the damage done. If he chose a woman, and he won't for reasons I will get into in a bit, he would still have the huge gap in Hispanic support to bridge. Finding a female Hispanic politician in the Republican party is hard enough. Finding one that also fixes the other issues he has is impossible. Especially when you consider the hardline anti-immigration base would respond to such a candidate.
Which brings up even more confusion. Romney has backed himself into a corner on so many issues and matters of ideology that he's gotten to a point where every choice he makes will have the effect of simultaneously alienating one important segment of the voting population while he panders to another. For instance choosing Rick Santorum would satisfy his crazy tea party base to a great degree and certainly help him among evangelicals, but he can say goodbye to moderates. The opposite is also true, picking someone slightly more liberal than himself would score points with moderates but he'd lose a large segment of his base.
So I think Romney's choice is unpredictable because there is no easy solution. No one size fits all VP candidate that will repair the damage and solidify the base without alienating the center. You can't just look at a much needed swing state like Wisconsin and nominate Paul Ryan. States rarely swing over a Vice Presidential pick. This is especially true of VP candidates who are House Representatives. Congressmen have little state wide support and are really only well know and well liked in their own district. Adding Ryan to the ticket does not help Romney in Wisconsin. Nor does it help with the various gaps Romney must bridge. Gender and Hispanic being the largest.
So since Romney will not find that magic VP candidate who can solve all of his problems, he is going to have to decide which person has the most potential to help him in whatever area of policy or messaging he feels are most beneficial. Who can fix which Romney short comings, and which of those short comings does Romney feel need to be fixed?
I will get back to that.
First a process of elimination is needed. Call it the Palin effect but I am fairly certain Romney's pick will not be a female politician. I am also fairly certain it won't be an inexperienced person. You can also bet they will be someone who is not prone to gaffes or going rogue. Anything that can remind people of Palin is probably off the table. That eliminates the likes of Michelle Bachmann or any other female politician. It eliminates any first term politicians who are too inexperienced like Marco Rubio. It also eliminates the likes of Rick Sanatorium, Chris Christie, Rick Perry among others who are too prone to gaffes and unpredictable, off message responses.
The GOP as a party tends to reward second placers. For example George H.W. Bush was chosen because he was Reagan's strongest opponent in the primaries. McCain was the 2008 nominee because he was alternative to Bush in 2000 in a year when the GOP wanted to try and show they were not defined by George W. Bush.
Romney was not only the runner up in 2008 but he also views himself as Reagan's second coming so I can see him making a similar move and picking someone who ran against him. But who is left from the Primary when you eliminate the inexperienced, the the woman and the possibly insane? Newt Gingrich? Tim Pawlenty?
My point is we should be looking at Anti-Palins. Experienced, Boring Men.
The problem with this idea is the entire GOP is full of boring men so it doesn't narrow things down at all. The concept of experience is also a double edged sword when you lead a party obsessed with outsiders. Experience can be a bad thing. So what kind of experience is Romney looking for? What counts as an outsider? The other component which is hardly discussed is Romney's faith which is very big on surrounding yourself with other church members. John Huntsman is the only man we have heard of who would fit the role. He and Romney have a long, messy history of spats and general competitiveness but he should still be considered a possibility.
It may seem like a long shot but it's one I maintain as a possibility due to the immense pressure Romney must be under to put another Mormon on the ticket.
As for Romney's weak spots, the areas he probably feels he needs to shore up. I would say first and foremost is his bedside manner with voters. He caused this meme that he is a robot. He brought that onto himself. If he can find someone who is more human, more charismatic and more principled than himself (shouldn't be hard) he can let the VP candidate do most of the talking, while Romney sticks to his prepared remarks where he does better.
I think that personality aspect will the biggest asset Romney is looking for.
For those looking for outside the box candidates my only suggestion is to look at Business Leaders close to Mitt Romney. If he picks from someone not on this list it will probably be a private sector businessman like that idiot from Papa Johns, maybe someone with some meager political experience, but a businessman none the less.
This would allow Romney to double down on the "You didn't build that" line of attack, spin his candidacy as a ticket of "Job Creators" and go to town talking about the economy. At least that would be my suggestion if I had the Governors ear and the inclination to help him.
Neither of which is the case.
If something comes to me in the form of inspiration and research bares intriguing fruit I will certainly share my results. But honestly I think Romney being a spectacularly mediocre candidate in a party full to the brim with not-ready-for-prime-time politicians to chose from makes this a tough call. Not one I would want to make.
There really is no good choice for Romney, though we all learned there wasn't really any good choice for McCain either.