Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has maintained his status as likely GOP presidential nominee in 2012, and early speculation is starting on his most important personnel decision: a nominee for Vice President. The VP choice is important, because the Vice President of the United States often becomes President. So if you make a bad pick it can really hurt your campaign. However, there are few examples of a VP pick actually helping the nominee on the upside politically. In general, like Joe Biden, they tend to become non-issues pretty quickly. The two key politicalcriteria for choosing a Veep are:
1. Try to solidify your base within the party. That often means picking the candidate for the presidential nomination that ran second, like Bush 1 (1980), John Edwards (2004), or someone to help you with a wavering ideological party base like Sarah Palin (2008), Jack Kemp (1996), Bob Dole (1976) or Walter Mondale (1976).
2. The brass ring is actually locking down a state that is in play in the Electoral College. JFK successfully did this with LBJ in 1960, and Clinton with Gore in 1992. The Gore choice was gutsy since it resulted in having two Southerners on the ticket, but Clinton-Gore picked up four states in the supposedly “solid” GOP South (five if you include Kentucky). LBJ and Gore are probably the only two modern cases that won their ticket’s states, and Electoral College votes, which the nominee would not have received otherwise.
Mitt Romney is going to have a generous array of prospective Vice Presidential candidates from an Electoral College point of view. Senator Rubio (Florida), Governor Kasich (Ohio), Governor McDonnell (Virginia), Governor Walker (Wisconsin) and Governor Daniels (Indiana) all hail from big states that Barack Obama carried in 2008. The Governor of Pennsylvania and the (female/Hispanic) Governor of New Mexico, two more Obama states, might get consideration too.
With Barack Obama’s job approval under water for most of his presidency, and at a highly vulnerable 45 now, a GOP win could be in the cards for 2012. Mitt Romney appears to be the only credible Republican in the race today. So watch that Vice Presidential pick. Think Coolidge, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Bush. That is quite a record of future Presidents for a job that is not supposed to be worth a bucket of warm spit, as Vice President John Garner once said.
And by the way, Franklin Roosevelt got the number-two spot on the 1920 ticket, too, even though the Democrats did not win that year.
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