4.) Governing — Vice presidential candidates must be able to take the helm should something happen to the president. They also must bring something substantive to what could be an eight-year partnership with the presidential candidate. The strongest governing choices are Ryan and Portman. Ryan knows the budget better than anyone and has personally authored two budgets as House Budget Committee chairman. Portman is widely respected by members in both chambers for his intellect, experience and calm manner. He served as a legislative aide to President George H.W. Bush before winning a seat in Congress, and was appointed White House budget director and U.S. trade representative by President George W. Bush. Former Gov. John Sununu (R-NH), a senior Romney adviser, told National Review’s Robert Costa that Portman is a favorite at Romney’s Boston headquarters because of his “political diligence, his fundraising prowess and his policy acumen.” Pawlenty and Jindal have very limited Washington experience or relationships, but both have credible reform records as governors.
5.) Narrative — The media is more powerful today than ever before. As such, Romney’s campaign must consider what the narrative will be for each potential VP choice. For Portman, it will be: insider, Bush baggage, experienced, plain. For Pawlenty, it will be: failed presidential candidate lacking charisma. For Jindal it will be: first Indian American on a major-party ticket, conservative, young. For Ryan, it will be: austerity.
As I said, pundits make predictions. I predict Romney chooses Portman and unveils the pick Monday morning in Cincinnati, Portman’s hometown. But I’m not wagering money.
Matt Mackowiak is an Austin, Texas and Washington, D.C.-based Republican consultant and president of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. He has been an adviser to two U.S. senators and a governor, and has advised federal and state political campaigns across the country.