I’ve been somewhat down on the Republican vice presidential field. But Clark Judge, writing on Hugh Hewitt’s site, has come up with an appealing possibility — former Michigan governor John Engler. Engler was the successful and popular governor of Michigan from 1991-2003. He was mentioned frequently as a possible running mate for George Bush in 2000 but for some resaon “the great mentioner” has passed him by this year.
The advantages Engler brings to the table are so obvious that I’m embarrassed not to have thought of him. First, there’s his popularity in the key state of Michigan. As Judge notes:
[Engler] remains popular there, perhaps more so as time has gone on. After good years under his stewardship, Michigan has suffered what was until recently termed a one-state recession, thanks to his successor, a very liberal Democrat who has pursued Obama-like economic policies to disastrous result.
Second, Engler’s status as as the can-do governor of an industrial state may have some spillover effect. In Judge’s words, “as a highly successful governor in the nation’s emblematic manufacturing region, Engler would be able to speak with authority on the needs of the nation’s economy and the dangers of the economic course Obama wants to take.”
Third, by all accounts Engler is an able man. A Republican would be hard-pressed to serve three terms as governor in the very blue state of Michigan if that were not the case.
In recent years, Engler has been the head of the National Association of Manufacturers. Judge suggests that even Engler’s association with that group might be a plus in this cycle. “Who could speak with more authority on what will help or hurt manufacturing in the United States,” he asks.
There are other angles that need to be considered, of course, including how effective Engler would be on the campaign trail and how well he would debate. I suspect that Engler, having competed so successfully in a heavily Democratic state, handles himself well. Yet Tommy Thompson was comparably successful in a difficult state (Wisconsin) but did not seem cut-out for a national campaign (Thompson is seven years older than Engler).
In any case, Engler is as an intriguing a choice as I have seen mooted this season.
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