Politically Connect: Who Romney should roll with
Published: Saturday, April 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012 13:04
Back in 2008, John McCain faced an uphill battle.
By late April of ‘08, he had successfully — and surprisingly — defeated a group of GOP challengers (like Mitt Romney) to win the Republican presidential nomination.
However, a political tsunami of support for the Democrats’ candidate was surging toward a seemingly inevitable general-election landslide — and McCain knew it.
He and his campaign decided that, if the long-time senator was going to have a legitimate shot at victory that November, he’d have to make a major splash with his VP pick — and, damn, did he ever.
McCain’s cannonball came close to clearing the political pool.
Sara Palin stormed the stage of presidential politics and immediately became a game-changer.
Her introduction into the race brought about an instant spike in McCain’s polling numbers and a flood-like flow of (previously drip-dry) conservative excitement across the country.
Simply put, Palin’s presence gave the McCain campaign life — not enough to stop the O-Train’s ride to the White House, but enough to maintain a GOP pulse through election night.
If Palin’s VP appointment in 2008 was like a last-second Hail-Mary heave, Romney’s running-mate selection in 2012 will be — or, at least, should be — like a 15-yard buttonhook.
McCain needed a game-changing touchdown; Romney just needs a first-down to keep the chains moving.
Right now, Romney and the leaders of his campaign are huddling up, trying to figure out which sure-handed Republican receiver they want to throw the vice-presidential ball to.
The GOP Elephants are a team deep with political players who possess a solid conservative record and substantial popular appeal. The names of numerous proven political powerhouses have surfaced as a potential running.
In fact, a national poll released by CNN last week named Condoleezza Rice as Republicans’ top choice to join Romney on their ticket. She led the way with 26 percent in the survey.
Still running red-hot off of his strong showing in the primary process, Rick Santorum snagged second place in the poll, coming in only five points behind Rice.
I think Rice would be an MVP-ish pick to be Romney’s running mate, but I don’t see her pulling a Favre-like comeback by returning from political retirement.
Santorum would give Romney what he really needs — conservative credentials, middle-class appeal, support from the religious-right — but their relationship is probably worse than the Jets’ Sanchez-Holmes predicament right now. (Speaking of the Jets, Tim Tebow would be perfect for the VP job, but he’s tied up trying to win his own (QB) contest in New York.)
Like pro-football teams scouting for this weekend’s NFL draft, the Romney campaign is combing through a robust bunch of young, talented Republicans who are currently making positive plays across the country’s political landscape.
Up-and-coming prospects, like Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, seem to be enticing options. Ryan and Republicans of his ilk certainly look good on paper, but they lack substantial experience and are perhaps more likely to drop the ball under the stadium-bright lights of the national political stage.
Like Ryan, Marco Rubio is a promising — albeit unproven — political prospect and potential option for Romney. The junior senator from Florida looks like a lock to be a major player in U.S. politics for years to come.
His ability to connect with young people, women and Hispanics would fill an important void in Romney’s repertoire.
Plus, if Rubio’s presence on the Republican ticket could deliver an election-night victory in his home state of Florida, Romney’s VP pick could prove to be an electoral-college clinching — and White House-winning —selection.
In NFL-combine terms, Rubio would be described as a physical specimen and prototype No. 1 pick: runs a 4.2 forty; has a 45-inch vertical leap; runs routes like Jerry Rice.
Conversely, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie looks like a lineman and acts like a linebacker.
He’s a tough-talking, strong-minded politician whose bark is bad but bite is worse. Since well before the official kickoff of the GOP presidential-nomination process, and up until Romney wrapped it up, many prominent Republicans pushed — and, at times, begged — for Christie to add his name to the allegedly lackluster list of Republican candidates.
Christie repeatedly and believably shrugged off such calls for a 2012 presidential candidacy, and he aligned himself with the eventual nominee long before it was fashionable to do so. (Can you say, political instinct?)
Quite simply, Christie is as solid as they come when it comes to politicians. He’s got a lot going for him, but the New Jersey Governor’s greatest positive attribute might be his lack of negative ones.
When political pundits routinely mention someone’s weight as their main drawback, you know that they’re digging deep find effective digs.
I believe Christie is the right choice to be Romney’s running mate. He would bring authenticity, toughness, trustworthiness and a never-back-down attitude to the Romney-ticket team.
However, the question remains: Will Christie’s bottom-of-the-ticket presence provide enough offensive fire power and score enough political points to take down the defending-champions, the Washington, D.C. Donkeys, and their all-star quarterback, Barack Obama?