Friday, October 21, 2011

Rubio and Veepstakes

I'm not sure how big a deal the WaPo story about Marco Rubio "embellishing" the facts of his family history will turn out to be for Rubio's career; that his parents left Cuba before Castro instead of fleeing Communist oppression might matter to some, but it's not as if he faked military service or gave himself bogus educational credentials.

The oddity of the Rubio situation is that I don't recall such an obvious VP frontrunner in any previous cycle. Now, preseason Veepstakes is notoriously silly; after all, guessing the pick even when there's just a few weeks to go and we know who is doing the picking rarely works out well. And the usual caveat applies: the bottom of the ticket doesn't really matter very much in November. So I'm not speculating about whether Rubio will actually get the nod. But it is, I think, worth pointing out that near as I can tell there's been a pretty solid consensus that Rubio is the obvious selection, and that such a consensus is unusual. My guess is that this story doesn't really shake the current consensus -- although whether everyone's expectations now have anything to do with who actually gets the pick is unknown and unknowable.

What does matter about VP selections is that it's a major boost towards actually becoming president someday; a lot of vice presidents have become president one way or another, and even losing VP nominees are often serious presidential contenders in future cycles.

The other thing to say about VP selections is that they've changed over time as nomination politics changed. It used to be that the second spot was a bargaining chip that a nominee could trade for support at the convention. That meant that it was far more of a party selection than it has become. Now, it's purely the pick of the nominee, made well after the nomination is wrapped up. There's still some party constraint; the nominee certainly doesn't want important party factions to get upset, and at the extreme case it's possible that the convention delegates could cause a very visible fuss, although remember that delegates are usually selected for their loyalty to the nominee. And of course the nominees themselves are creatures of very partisan candidacies.

At any rate, as I said I suspect that the Rubio expectations will survive this with very little damage; as Dave Weigel argues, there's not really a lot to this particular story. Whatever that eventually means to the nominee.


  1. I'd say that the biggest mark against Rubio is that no one knows who he is. He hasn't been on the Sunday shows for more than a decade like Biden and Lieberman. He hasn't previously run for President like Edwards, Gore, and Papa Bush. He hasn't been a high-profile Administration official like Cheney. The first rule of picking a VP is "Do No Harm", but if you can also pick a known quantity that needs no introduction, it minimizes the risk that the VP will actually detract from the ticket.

    The only three recent VP candidates who were not already known on the national stage were Palin, Quayle, and Ferraro. I think it's safe to say that those three were also the riskiest VP choices of the past 30 years. If Romney is down in the polls like McCain was, I can see him pulling a stunt like putting Rubio on the ticket. If he's tied or up, though, why would he risk it? Why wouldn't he do as Obama did and pick a steady, experienced hand to join the ticket?

  2. I think it's a bad idea for nominees to select "heir apparent" VPs. The problem is that when they do run they have enormous advantages over others in the field, but those advantages weren't earned by any real political skill aside from convincing one person that they might be a good president someday. I'd rather have a nominee emerge from a competitive primary.

  3. What strikes me about Rubio is how his party's idea that he is their next standard bearer. It seems fairly widespread... He is politically aligned (for the most part) with the far-right power players who currently control the party and he is a Latino without having illegal immigration in his back-story (unlike the guv of New Mexico).

    Whether or not he is Veep nominee next year, it seems as if he's got some big names behind him.

  4. If not VP, I wouldn't be surprised if he is the keynote speaker at the RNC.

  5. Love the update to Weigel's article:

    UPDATE: Matt Yglesias points out that the version of the Rubio story on his Senate website is just wrong.

    Uh, whooops! There goes the whole "Don't pick on Marco! He's not lying!" thesis.

  6. I wonder if there will be any Evangelical push-back on a Mormon-Catholic ticket. Presumably, most of them approve of Rubio's hard-right politics.

  7. @Andrew - yep Yglesias was right on the facts on this one. I still think it's a minor fib, but Rubio's defenders were a bit too quick to liken his truth-telling to George Washington.

  8. Can I just point out that this young, rising star is rocking a combover at the age of, what, 40? Just sayin', is all.

  9. I hope Rubio is not picked because he is a neocon. Watching the debates it looks to me like the crowds support Israel but are otherwise dubious about an expansive foreign policy. What does Rubio think:

    "Rubio talks sweepingly about America’s mission in the world, Paul expresses skepticism about nation-building and democracy promotion. Where Rubio invokes World War II and the cold war, Paul invokes the founding fathers’ fears about executive power and overseas entanglements. Where Rubio borrows Ronald Reagan’s expansive rhetoric, Paul praises Reagan’s caution in committing American troops to foreign wars."

    Rubio has learned nothing from the messes in Iraq and Afghanistan unlike most Americans who are in no mood for more wars and are tired of the US trying to be the world policeman.

  10. I've long thought Huckabee would be the perfect veep for Romney. It gives him immediate credibility with the evangelical wing which seems to have resisted moving in his direction, and he is an affable guy who is a known quantity on the trail.

    After the demonization of immigrants at these debates the last few months, I think they could put Our Lady of Guadalupe on the ticket and not make much in the way of inroads with Hispanic voters this time around. I share the same concerns about foreign policy that Mercer outlines, buy I am also not the target demographic for the pick anyway.


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