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Vice Presidential Roundup: The Good, The Bad and The Unlikely

Vice Presidential Roundup: The Good, The Bad and The Unlikely
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With speculation growing that Mitt Romney may name his vice presidential candidate this week — okay, it’s unlikely, but he’s got to distract from the Bain controversy somehow — it’s time to take a look at who Romney could pick, and what they bring to the ticket, good or bad, from the perspective of the Romney campaign.

Candidates are listed in general order of likelihood they’ll be picked, but of course, only Mitt Romney and his extensive network of rich donors knows for sure.

1. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio

Portman is in his first term as a Senator from Ohio, having won his seat in the 2010 GOP wave election. Previously, Portman served as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush. He also served six terms in the House of Representatives.

Pro: Portman is on the list for the same reasons real estate is valuable: location, location, location. Portman hails from Ohio, which is a must-win state for Romney. Unfortunately, Barack Obama has built a steady lead there. If that lead holds, Romney can kiss the White House goodbye. While it’s far from clear that Portman would actually help Romney win the state, the possibility makes him hard to pass up.

Portman also represents the kind of candidate Romney is said to favor — an “incredibly boring white guy,” according to one GOP observer. Portman is incredibly boring, he’s white, and he’s a guy. He wouldn’t be a “game-changer,” à la Sarah Palin, but he would be a steady, boring, probably reasonably competent backup emergency president.

Finally, Portman is the son of an entrepreneur who built a mid-sized company; that would dove-tail nicely with Romney’s emphasis on business.

Con: Three words: Bush’s Budget Advisor. Portman was head of the Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush, and is tied directly to a president who exploded the deficit. That makes it harder for Romney to hit Obama on debt. Moreover, the Republicans have spent most of the Obama Administration rebranding as the Tea Party, but Portman is a direct tie to the old guard. Finally, Portman is far from beloved by the right wing of the party.

Summary: Portman has some baggage from being a Bushie, but Ohio is definitely in play, and if Portman can move the needle a few points there, he’d be worth his weight in gold to Romney.

2. Former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty

Pawlenty served as Governor of Minnesota from 2003 through 2011. Prior to that, he served in the Minnesota House of Representatives as House Majority Leader. He ran unsuccessfully for president this year.

Pro: Pawlenty, like Portman, is an incredibly boring white guy. Unlike Portman, however, he speaks fluent Tea Party. A member of an evangelical church, Pawlenty speaks the language of the GOP base in a way that Portman and Romney don’t. Pawlenty is more conservative than he appears at first blush, so he can win the hearts of the base without scaring off moderates. He also is the son of a truck driver, his mom died when he was 16, and he rose from a modest, middle-class background to become governor. Romney could use someone on the ticket whose parents weren’t cartoonishly rich.

Con: On August 1, 2007, the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring another 50. It did so three months after Pawlenty vetoed a transportation funding bill that would have increased gas taxes, and also increased road and bridge maintenance. Would it have prevented the collapse? Maybe not. But it was symbolic of the sort of penny-wise, pound-foolish approach of many conservatives with regard to infrastructure. Whether it’s fair or not, you can expect the Obama campaign to run lots of images like these in its campaign ads.

One other big disadvantage: Minnesota is not a swing state. It’s solid blue. Given Pawlenty’s finish in the Iowa straw poll, it’s doubtful that he would attract much support in Iowa or Wisconsin, either. He ticks a lot of boxes, but he doesn’t help much to swing any particular state.

Summary: Pawlenty has some advantages over Portman, but he’s not from a swing state. Like Portman, he wouldn’t be a game-changer. He probably wouldn’t be much of a negative, either.

3. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Ryan is the current chair of the House Budget Committee, and has served in the House for seven terms. He worked as a marketing consultant prior to entering politics.

Pro: Ryan, like Pawlenty, has a background that is at least recognizable to mere mortals. His father was a lawyer who died when Ryan was 16; he worked his way through college as a camp counselor and Oscar Meyer Weinermobile driver. He is loved by the right wing of the party, and has been dubbed “serious” by the Beltway cognoscenti. He’s from Wisconsin, which is at least theoretically in play. Finally, Romney is said to personally like Ryan.

Con: Ryan is the author of a proposed budget that features draconian cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Democrats have already used Ryan in ads that show him throwing old people off cliffs. If he ends up on the ticket, expect things to get nasty, quick.

Romney has officially backed Ryan’s budget, but has been vague on specifics so far, mainly because Ryan’s budget touches as many third-rails as it can. So far, he hasn’t been backed into the corner on that, but with Ryan on the ticket, Romney would own Medicare cuts, and that could be deadly.

Additionally, while he’s got a high profile, Ryan is only a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The last member of the House to appear on a major-party ticket was Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, D-N.Y., in 1984, and the last to appear on the GOP ticket was Rep. William E. Miller, D-N.Y., in 1964. One suspects that Romney hopes to do better than the Mondale and Goldwater campaigns did.

Summary: While he’s loved on the right, Ryan is only a congressman, and a congressman with a history of proposing things most Americans oppose. Romney could still pick him, because he would provide a vital link to the party’s right wing. But he would be risking a lot to do so.

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9:03PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

Republican talking points remind way too much of the headlines contained in tabloids at the supermarket checkout.

Constantly Photoshop-ing reality, like the tabloid headlines of three headed love child's of inter-galactic aliens.

Be it when Mr. Romney was concurrently at Bain (to qualify for governor) and not at Bain (to distance himself from off-shoring) during the same span of time.


The recent textual Photoshop-ing of a POTUS stump speech simply to create a mis-directive talking point to get away from off-shoring.


The textual Photoshop-ing of the story about the DOE loans to Fisker


Just what the country needs is somebody who will as akin to the last round of camera shy Cheney and company spin yarns of WMD entering the white house on a campaign funded in part by disgraced foreign banking interests.

8:39PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

Oh crud Dr C, they wouldn't let me send you a star for your right on and Pogo Possum like funny post. You rock!

8:36PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

And another thing David, I don't like Obama appointing scumbag Wall Streeters like Bernanke, Summers and Geithner, but any Republican would have done the same, so while I may not like it, I'm pragmatic about it. And Obama is as well, he would have never have been able to get someone who could make a difference, like Paul Krugman, confirmed.

Every problem we have economically is directly on the hands of the right. from Reagan's idiocy of trickle down and tax cuts for the wealthy paid for by the poor and middle class to his and Dumbya's spending like a drunken sailor.

8:30PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

Oh David, David, David....every time you post you prove your ignorancer. Obama has increased spending less than any president since Carter. His firat year had a 1.5 trillion deficit, but that was Bush's budget. His budget deficits included 2 trillion that was already spent on the wars but which Bush kept off budget. When you spew wingnut talking points, you prove my point that you have no idea what you're talking about, since no right winger EVER tells the truth and if you're so dumb you buy into those points, you should just shut the eff up because you have nothing worth saying.

Obama's biggest failure is that he considered Republicans to be loyal Americans, but there's no way that they are. Every last one of them is corrupt to the core. as are some Democrats. The difference is that most Democrats are working to improve the country and every Republican is working to destroy democracy.

8:23PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

Obama's qualifications to be president? 3 1/2 years experience.

And the rest of your post David, was a big ol Beck fib.

8:18PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

David N.......qualifications.... Hmmmmm Bush 43 an alcoholic, not the sharpest knife in the aging movie star........A few presidents past experience.........I think both Romney and President Obama are very intelligent men with polar opposite ideals......Stick with the one you have.....he has personality and a heart closer to the people

5:01PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

Emergency presidential hologram: "Please state the nature of your executive emergency"
The people: "All our jobs have been off shored and nobodies left to fund the government"
Emergency presidential hologram: "Might I recommend a tax cut."
The people: "All our jobs have been off shored and nobodies left to fund the government"
Emergency presidential hologram: "Might I recommend a war with another country."

(sounds of smashing electronics)

4:47PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

Robert K., I said that both Romney and Obama are both not qualified to be President. I would like to see your list of qualifications you think Obama has, since you seem to be promoting him. As I recall, he was a community organizer with no solid leadership experience and who never met a payroll ...and who has generally failed in everything except to drive us deeper and deeper into debt. I will admit, however, that Obama an excellent "street fighter," skilled in deceit, deception, dishonesty, and distraction (based on the communist "big lie" tactic). Your "blasting" me does not change any of the facts. I see you may not really like the idea of Obama killing innocent people using drone attacks. Thus, you seem to have some idea of what is right and what is wrong ... so I suggest you take another look at Obama.

4:33PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

I've said it before, but obviously it needs constant repitition to sink in to the underworked brains of some here:

The ONLY 5 reasons for voting Republican are:


There is no other reason to do so.

4:26PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

David N, if you think any Republican is better qualified than Obama you need to get back on your meds ASAP. I don't like the idea of the drones, but they're 1000 times better than invasion and create thousands of times less innocent casualties. Obama's biggest errors are all based on the same factor, believing that Republicans love their country. All they care about is money and power, and if you don't get that then you're dumber than a box of rocks. Probably iron pyrites. 8^) The Republican party is the very essence of fool's gold.

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