National Journal has put together a ranking of possible Mitt Romney running mates (assuming he becomes the nominee). It’s a good start to what will surely be a long conversation. And I certainly agree with their ranking of Sen. Marco Rubio in the top-tier. But otherwise, I think their order is screwy.
If we accept the premise that Romney is going to have to go right because the conservative base is disenchanted — and pick someone that will make the Jim DeMints and Sen. Jim DeMint acolytes of the world happy (or, at least, appease them) — then what are Gov. Bob McDonell, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. Rob Portman doing on the list?
These guys essentially reinforce Romney’s negative attributes (white-bred, moderate, establishment-types), and do little (or nothing) to fix his vulnerabilities. Sen. John Thune’s inclusion is equally ridiculous. He’s an appropriator with trouble spots in his voting record and also not embraced by conservative grassroots. His main attributes seem to include being tall and (I’m told) good looking. And, again, his selection is essentially doubling down on the “establishment” image that already haunts Romney.
(Note: Portman, at least, represents the swing state of Ohio.)
Gov. Chris Christie, I would argue, should be listed ahead of both McDonnell and Portman. Though he may not be the perfect philosophical conservative, stylistically, he balances the ticket. I can envision a Romney-Christie ticket.
What about the omissions?
It might be presumptuous to include former Sen. Rick Santorum on such a list (since he’s still running for president), but I think Santorum has perhaps done more to revive his image and enhance his reputation than anyone else during this process. He has earned some serious consideration. If Mike Pence wasn’t running for governor, he would certainly be a very plausible pick. Jeb Bush and Gov. Nikki Haley are also conspicuously absent, though I wouldn’t say either are likely picks.
In short, I’m betting on Rubio or Christie. But there’s another dark horse who deserves some veep love: Sen. Pat Toomey. A Toomey pick would excite tea party conservatives — and simultaneously provide the ticket with a mature, experienced spokesman. What is more, he’s from Pennsylvania. He’s an electoral choice and a governing choice. Don’t count him out.