Thursday, April 5, 2012

Veepstakes and Chemistry

What with today sort of being Opening Day and all, I indulged myself over at Post Partisan and wrote about the "Mark Portugal mistake" with regard to Veepstakes. That is, don't overvalue the stuff you've seen in person -- in this case, don't pick your running mate based on who you seemed to get along with on the campaign trail.

Meanwhile, the latest National Journal insiders poll says that Marco Rubio's star is shrinking, while Rob Portman is moving up. Of course, that's all total speculation; the only vote that counts is the one that Mitt Romney will cast, and there's no real way of guessing that. Portman seems like a reasonable choice to me. Granted, he hasn't been vetted through a national campaign, but really only the Huck fits that, and it's not altogether clear he's available, plus there's always the chance that Romney won't want him for some other reason.

As for Portman, he seems relatively safe. He's had a reasonable amount of experience. If you're going to pick a state to get a couple of points of a boost, Ohio is right at the top of the list. I've seen some liberals say that his George W. Bush era stint at OMB will be a problem, what with that administration's fiscal issues, but I find that a pretty obscure line of attack. Now, I'm sure he cast some ugly votes in his fairly long service in the House, but again -- that's not going to matter much for a VP pick.

So Huck still seems like the best choice to me, but Portman isn't bad at all.


  1. Given how little VPs matter on the trail, chemistry is probably one of the most important factors in the decision, because you need to pick someone you can work well with when you're elected. After all, you can't fire a VP just because it's not working out like you can with nearly every other member of your administration.

  2. I agree Huck is the best choice. However, as soon as his radio show is announced, I am not sure if his heart is in this anymore. I think he is more interested in money than politics now.

  3. re the veepstakes: I've asked about this before, but I don't think you've entertained it, so I'll reframe the question in the form of a thought experiment.

    Imagine it's July 1st. Romney's over the top, but per JB it's been clear for months that there will be no contested convention. Two days later, July 3, Director of CIA David Petraeus announces he is going to retire, effective in one month. His vague, boilerplate reasons for retirement convince no one, and at Independence Day barbecues throughout the land, Republicans rejoice. Petraeus remains silent, and declines all TV invites. In 2008, as a uniformed officer, he unequivocally denied political ambitions, repeatedly quoting Sherman. But now, as a civilian, maintaining silent running until his end date, this is different. He immediately ignites a political firestorm that engulfs the race for the next four weeks.

    On Friday, August 3, General Petraeus retires. On Saturday, August 4, he holds a press conference in the front yard of his wife's family home in Springfield, New Hampshire. His remarks are brief. "While in uniform, I swore up and down, just like Sherman, that I would never seek office. I meant it. Now, as a civilian, my mind has changed. This election is too important for me to sit on the sidelines. All I have to say today to Governor Romney, my party's nominee for President, and to my fellow Americans, is this: If asked, I will run; if nominated, I will accept; if elected, I will serve."

    Happy Birthday, Mr. President. Game. Changed.

    Now, it won't happen like that. Romney will have to know first, and ask him first. Then the campaign would roll it out, maybe to similar dramatic effect.

    And Petraeus' denials may really have been genuine. At least I believe him more than any other political actor. He may not truly care about Republican or conservative politics as they exist now.

    But two things that he probably does care about: the future shape and capabilities of the Armed Forces, and the future composition of the Supreme Court. He could have a great deal to say about both simply by throwing his Ranger beret into the ring.

    And if he actually ever did harbor Presidential ambitions, this would be the shortest and easiest route.

    Is there a good case against this possibility, that doesn't rest solely on his denials?


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