photo credit: CNN.com
At this point in the Republican primary race, we may be witnessing a moment similar to what happens in movies (like Chariots of Fire, or the pre-bobsled part of Cool Runnings) when the runners on a track are in the final, slow-motion sprint to the end. The cameras are flashing, the crowd is holding its breath, and the soundtrack is suitably grand and dramatic.
Except that what we’ve been hearing over the past week has made it seem more like something out of Gladiator or a Japanese game show. There’s Mitt Romney, chained at the ankles to the collapsed bodies of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, shuffling with gritted teeth… toward a finish line… that continues to move.
Such is the Triple-A battery-strength excitement generated by Romney within the GOP. He won’t so much burst through the ribbon of victory in a triumphant display. Instead his party will guide him by the hand across the finish line, the ribbon having been politely snipped ahead of time. The Republican Party isn’t ready to douse him with champagne and lift him up onto their shoulders, but they will probably give him some money for pizza and their business cards, with the instruction to call them if he needs anything.
And he will be making some calls: he needs a running mate. Writing on CNN.com, Julian Zelizer says that the Romney camp should resist the temptation to choose someone daring to compensate for his lukewarm appeal.
Just because Romney isn’t a Tea Party candidate doesn’t mean he should move “Hat, Two Corners Minimum” to the top of his VP checklist. In 2008, John McCain picked someone who got behind the wheel of his general election campaign and drove it into some neighborhoods where he didn’t feel very safe, and in the end he suffered for it:
It is difficult for a candidate to pick someone as a running mate who is far to the right but still maintains credibility with centrist voters. . . . Many loyal Republicans privately admitted that they couldn’t vote for their candidate with Palin on the ticket. One of McCain’s biggest potential virtues — his appeal to moderates — was gone.
Vice Presidents are meant to be boring, Zelizer reminds us, and the safe choice is usually the best one. Look at Joe Biden: He has a penchant for saying embarrassing things and he needlessly denigrates Republicans, but has he ever really upstaged the President? Maybe when he said the F-word that time, but who knows what messages Vice President Howard Dean could be primal-screaming in our direction if things had been different. . . .
Anyway: the VP decision probably won’t make or break Romney’s campaign. The voters in the general election are going to take him seriously or they’re not.
He has a line of suitors waiting to try on the glass slipper, though, and with any luck he’ll find someone who fits with an extra pair of socks on:
New Jersey governor Chris Christie (”the Jabba the Hutt of Trenton”) is a frequently-cited possibility; he has been going steady with Romney since he offered his endorsement back in October. He has been reported saying that he would go further if Romney agreed to meet his parents.
Florida representative and celebrated Hispanic Marco Rubio is a hot item these days, though he indicated recently that while he is flattered by Romney’s gentlemanly willingness to pay for his meal at dinner, he would prefer to split the bill fifty-fifty so Romney doesn’t, you know, expect anything.
And there’s Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the famed “architect” of House Republicans’ budget proposals whose blueprints correspond, some say, to a building without carpeting, insulation, or walls. The conservative columnist George Will wrote in support of both these men in Sunday’s Washington Post — but George Will also has a reputation for wearing bow ties a lot, so ask yourself how willing you are to take him seriously.
Then there’s other people, too, like Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Rob Portman of Ohio, Jeb Bush and Allen West of Florida, and even the former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, about whom little is known.
No matter who Romney tags-in, his campaign is sure to get stronger and more compelling to those unsatisfied with BHO. USDemocrazy withholds its endorsement of a VP candidate as yet, but there are certain well-coiffed ex-governors of certain mid-Atlantic states whose capitols may include Annapolis that we strongly wish the Romney campaign would consider for the virtually limitless appeal of their combined haircuts, if nothing else.