Sometime this week, I suspect, Mitt Romney will announce his selection of a running mate. Here’s a rundown of the top possibilities:
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman: The former U.S. trade representative and head of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush is the ultimate anti-Palin — male, boring, experienced and competent, hailing not from far-off Alaska but from the swing state of Ohio. My favorite for the pick, not least because he would appeal to Romney’s instinct as a CEO to choose a bland No. 2 who would be comfortable staying in the background.
Former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty: A frontrunner for the VP nomination four years ago who launched and prematurely abandoned a bid for the top spot on the ticket in the 2012 cycle. Again, male, experienced and competent, but again so boring that he let himself get pushed out of the presidential race by fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio: The Florida politician, of Cuban descent, is male, somewhat inexperienced at the national level, and about as exotic as Republicans come. He would be a popular figure at the GOP convention in Tampa, but comes with unanswered questions. May be more of a gamble than the cautious Romney will accept.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: Conservative, popular with the Christian Right. His disastrous rebuttal to President Obama’s 2009 State of the Union speech raised serious questions about his capacity to handle the spotlight, and while his new school-voucher program has made him a hero for many on the right, its ragged implementation to date makes him the biggest gamble of the bunch. The least likely on this list, I would think.
N.J. Gov. Chris Christie: Male, experienced, and probably the least boring and predictable choice in the litter. A strong personality who basks in the limelight, but again, I’m not sure that those are the qualities that the corporate-minded Romney would seek in a running mate.
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan: Male, experienced and again not boring. By selecting Ryan, the author of the highly conservative and controversial House budget, Romney would all but ensure that the campaign is fought out over issues of taxation and spending, with starkly drawn distinctions between the two parties. Personally, I’d love to see it, if for no other reason than to force the American people to confront the policy choices that they face.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte: A bit of a stretch, but the freshman from New Hampshire, a neighboring state to Romney’s Massachusetts, would be my darkhorse pick. She comes across as intelligent and telegenic, and might help Romney improve his dangerously low support among women voters.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: Experienced in the ways of Washington, popular with and respected by almost everyone in the party, a man with little to no personal ego who would be willing to follow whatever script the Romney campaign might hand him. The perfect choice.
– Jay Bookman