The Veepstakes

Some time in the next month, Mitt Romney likely will tell us who his running mate is. When within that time frame we’ll get such an announcement, who knows.

Who is on the short list? Jim Geraghty believes that “barring some surprise, completely under-the-radar choice, the list is (in alphabetical order) Ayotte, Jindal, Pawlenty, Portman, Ryan, Rubio and Thune.” With the possible exception of Ayotte’s inclusion, that sounds about right.

Ayotte should not be on the short list. Her relevant experience consists of a stint as New Hampshire’s attorney general and a year and a half in the U.S. Senate. And unlike Marco Rubio, who became a Senator at the same time, Ayotte is not an exceptional spokesperson for conservative principles. Her selection would correctly be viewed as pandering to female voters at the expense of selecting a candidate qualified to assume the presidency. This perception is unlikely to sit well with the electorate.

The remaining six candidates on Geraghty’s list would all be reasonably good selections, I think, assuming that vetting does not reveal adverse information we won’t know about. The list can be divided into two categories: safe/solid candidates and exciting/charismatic ones.

I place Palenty, Portman, and to a lesser extent Thune in the first category. All three would, to one degree or another, reinforce the theme of Romney’s campaign — the need to replace Obama with a safer, more traditional, more competent, and less disruptive president who understands the economy and does not wish radically to transform it. But none of the three would excite much passion.

The other candidates — Ryan, Rubio, and Jindal — might well excite passion. Ryan also qualifies in spades as a candidate who understands the economy. However, the leadership he has exercised in making difficult and potentially unpopular decisions on budgetary issues places him on the charismatic, rather than the safe, side of ledger. Jindal, an experienced and successful governor, is perhaps the one candidate with feet in both the safe and charismatic camps.

I’ll probably have more to say about these six, and anyone else who seems to be cracking the short list, assuming Romney makes his selection later rather than sooner.

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