But Who Is Romney’s Plus One?

Given the weakness of his opposition, it is difficult to see anyone but Mitt Romney being the Republican nominee for President. Gingrich isn’t taken seriously by enough conservatives any longer, Perry is seen as a flake (or worse, W. Part Deux) by the establishment, and Ron Paul’s views on foreign affairs are persona non grata in the conservative big tent. All of which leads us to today’s post:

Who gets to be this election’s Sarah Palin?

The rules for selecting a V.P. candidate are well established; the running mate must help the nominee get elected. Period. Were you looking for something more complicated? The Vice President, in our system of government, has few constitutionally-mandated responsibilities, and none that can’t be fulfilled by literally dozens of other persons in the Executive Branch. What the running mate can provide is ticket balance, giving the nominee leverage with a voting block or a leg up in an electorally critical state. Beyond that, the running mate can only really harm the ticket, through an embarrassing admission or gaffe (or by confessing the ability to see Russia from one’s doorstep.)

So who fits Mitt? John Huntsman is dropping out to endorse Romney, but a fellow Utah Mormon, who served in the Obama Administration and is a moderate by today’s standards brings nothing to the ticket. Huntsman would be the Secretary of State in a Romney cabinet. Gingrich is political napalm, and would rather rule in Tiffany’s than serve in the Romney campaign. Rick Perry is interesting, given his ability to help Romney with evangelicals, but his campaign lapses and controversial past (the name of his family hunting estate and his pro-secession statements come to mind) probably exclude the Texas governor.

Rick Santorum seems like a very good candidate to be the running mate. The former Pennsylvania senator can excite the evangelical wing of the party, and would be of real benefit in Pennsylvania (a must win) and New Jersey (a blue state in play this cycle). But I question whether the blood is too bad between these two men for a pairing to happen. Although, Romney/Santorum wouldn’t be the most unusual same-sex political marriage in recent history; George H. W. Bush was picked by Ronald Reagan despite the very real animosity between the two, and that worked out pretty well for the Republicans. Still, Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan, so I wouldn’t bet on the pairing.

No, my crystal ball has two names floating around, the dark-horse and the anointed one in waiting. The dark-horse pick for Mitt Romney would bring an edge to his candidacy, and a real sense of foreign policy aptitude of a type that conservative voters fall readily in love. Liz Cheney might be the antidote to what looks like the GOP’s biggest obstacle to beating Barack Obama; his national security street cred. Seriously. For the first time since Kennedy, conservatives have had their trump card stolen from them. The “He kept us safe” crowd has little response for the “Look at all of those dead terrorists out there” argument, but if one did exist, Liz Cheney could deliver the message. But I think this pick might be too nuanced for Romney, so I will stick with the anointed in waiting.

The 2012 Republican Presidential Ticket will be Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. The latest Mr. Bush would give Romney a real shot at beating Obama in Florida, and would also give the GOP a better shot at beating incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. Bush has those rock solid conservative credentials that Romney has flip-flopped his way out of, and would definitely give evangelical voters a reason to come out this November. Plus, as much as conservatives have pretended to dislike the Bush legacy, The Rational Middle knows they secretly yearn for a way back to the Kennebunkport Clan. Jeb Bush has the works, and this November, Romney will definitely need the lot.

The Rational Middle is listening…

I want to wish everyone a Happy Martin Luther King Day…it feels good to write about our democracy on a holiday meant to honor the man who gave his life for the principal of non-violent change.-M.C.