Romney’s choice: Vetting veeps

A look at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s unpalatable options for a running mate.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman has been mentioned as a possible Mitt Romney vice presidential pick [AFP]
Ohio Senator Rob Portman has been mentioned as a possible Mitt Romney vice presidential pick [AFP]

Rumours are making the rounds that Mitt Romney, a man not known to exhibit a McCainian temperament, might pick his vice presidential candidate earlier than usual to shake things up – meaning to stop people from talking about the fact that his money has spent more time living abroad than he has.

So just as Mr Romney now believes he must “vet the president” – because nobody has ever heard of Reverend Wright or Bill Ayers – I think it is time to get to know who our second-in-command might be come January 2013, should Mitt Romney find a way to bring his brand of jet-ski conservatism to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Contenders:

  • Ohio Senator Rob Portman:

Benefits: So white he makes Wonder Bread look like pumpernickel. This should make Tea Party adherents bask in the warmth of feeling that we’re still in the 1950s with 1920s tax rates. He is also popular in Ohio, an important swing state.

Drawbacks: Part of the brilliant George W Bush budgeting machine that turned the first three consecutive balanced budgets since 1947-49 into a pile of debt so large it developed the ability to reason – because, as his buddy Dick Cheney has said: “Reagan taught us that deficits don’t matter.” Portman was also Bush’s trade representative, something that should make him hugely popular to non-college-educated whites, who make up a large part of the GOP base and are most hurt by our trade deals.

Miscellaneous: Does a mean impression of a chicken.

  • Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty:

Benefits: So boring he makes Mitt Romney seem like Axl Rose. Comes off like a decent guy, so he might be able to win back some of “you people” the Romneys alienate with Swiss bank accounts, Mitt’s stated love of firing people, and other socially glorious moments. Could possibly, although not likely, turn Minnesota red.

Drawbacks: Every time he gives a speech, ten more cases of narcolepsy are diagnosed and Baby Jesus cries.

Miscellaneous: Like Mitt, Pawlenty flip-flopped on believing in 21st century science (global warming), so perhaps if the Tea Party shouts loud enough, he and Mitt could also team up to oppose gravity and creeping Sharia law.

  • South Dakota Senator John Thune:

Benefits: A heartland conservative who doesn’t have to pretend to do his own laundry for the cameras to fit in with people who don’t have a horse named Rafalca, which performs in the Olympics and provides Romney with a $77,000 tax writeoff.

Drawbacks: From South Dakota. Without looking, I think it has like 1.5 electoral votes. Sponsored the Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill that would give George Zimmerman a pat on the back, an assault weapon and release him on a street near you.

Miscellaneous: Wait, who is John Thune again?

  • Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan:

Benefits: Wins in what should be a Democratic state, and is 30 years younger than your average Republican.

Drawbacks: Released a budget so full of fantasy and danger that it is scheduled to be the villain in the next Avengers film. This budget actually ends Medicare as a guarantee and cuts Social Security – you know, the programme that allowed Ryan to attend college with survivor benefits after his father passed away.

Miscellaneous: Eerily resembles what a grown-up Eddie Munster would look like.

  • Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:

Benefits: Not white.

Drawbacks: Not white.

Miscellaneous: Performed an exorcism while in college (not kidding), so if any demons are haunting the FY 2014 budget or White House Map Room, he’s your guy.

All other Republicans being mentioned because they are not old, Caucasian guys:

  • Florida Senator Marco Rubio, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Benefits: Leaking their names makes the campaign seem more tolerant to “white moderates” without alienating the Republican base.

Drawbacks: Not one of them has expressed the slightest interest in the job, with many, such as Rubio, Martinez and Rice, explicitly saying they are not interested.

Miscellaneous: There is a greater chance of Dick Cheney riding into Washington on Halley’s Comet waving his hat and offering gifts to war orphans than there is of any one of these people being offered the job.

One more dark horse (or knight):

  • Batman 

Benefits: Can definitely warm to the attack dog role.

Drawbacks: Won’t stop going after Bane.

Miscellaneous: Similar belief in transparency to Mitt Romney.

So there you have it, the GOP vice-presidential field in a nutshell. I hope you can feel the excitement – I know I do.

Cliff Schecter is an author, pundit and public relations strategist whose firm Libertas, LLC handles media relations for political, corporate and non-profit clients.

Follow Cliff Schecter on Twitter: @cliffschecter

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