Nagging dissatisfaction with Romney as the Republican nominee has led many to clamor for an exciting candidate to help rally the base. Chris Christie could be Mitt’s “attack dog,” while possibly making up ground in northeastern states. Paul Ryan would be the young face with a mind for economics who could deliver Wisconsin. Marco Rubio, by far the most popular, is the young, Hispanic Floridian Senator who could not only deliver Florida, but could also make up ground with younger and Latino voters. Mike Huckabee would win over Evangelicals who are skeptical of Romney’s Mormonism. But who will Romney choose?
And the winner is, drum roll please…
Rob Portman? Few have even heard of him, but he might be Romney’s choice. On the surface, he’s a boring, old white guy. Let’s look at the factors that I believe will lead Romney to select the Senator from Ohio.
OHIO, OHIO, OHIO…
Hey, did I mention he’s from Ohio? Ohio has a large electoral pot, and is a must-win. Only six Presidents did not win Ohio, and the last President who did not carry the state was John F. Kennedy. Romney is running neck-and-neck with Obama in Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina, which all went for Obama last time. But they are all winnable without help. In Ohio, meanwhile, the polls have Romney down between 4 and 7 points, which is well outside the margin of error. Portman is fairly popular in Ohio, with a solid approval rating; only 23% of Ohioans disapprove of Portman’s job performance. If Romney is to win in November, he MUST win Ohio, along with the previously mentioned states. Romney is likely to win North Carolina, and the more accurate pollsters have Romney winning Virginia, while Florida is a dead heat and will probably swing for Romney. But in Ohio, Romney needs help. If he sweeps all four key states, Mitt Romney’s new home will be 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
CALMING CONCERNED CONSERVATIVES
Many conservatives view Romney as moderate, untrustworthy, and politically motivated. Although I have hoped to largely dispell this notion with a previous article, the fact remains that some Republicans just don’t care for Romney very much. That’s why it’s important to select a Vice Presidential candidate who is conservative to give the base some confidence. Romney formally joined the pro-life movement in 2004, but Portman has always been against abortion and holds a 100% pro-life voting record. According to votesmart.org, Portman receives very high marks on budgetary issues, gun rights, and being conservative. He stands on the side of traditional marriage, believes in preserving the fundamental principles of the Constitution, and has a great record when it comes to limited government and fiscal responsibility. Speaking of finances…
“THIS IS STILL ABOUT THE ECONOMY, AND WE’RE NOT STUPID”
Romney’s quote that deflected the distractions of the Obama campaign epitomizes the nature of the 2012 campaign: This election is a referendum on Obama’s handling of the economy. Romney has built his campaign on his business and executive experience in turning around enterprises and even the state economy of Massachusetts. Romney has repeatedly attacked Obama for out-of-control spending; Obama has helped push American debt from $10 trillion to $16 trillion in less than four years. Romney needs to put his money where his mouth is and select someone who would be an important partner in tackling budget issues, not just an exciting personality like Palin was for McCain.
“There’s a sense out there that Washington is careening down a path toward a fiscal catastrophe,” Portman recently said. He authored at least twelve bills that became laws, including legislation that reformed the IRS and confronted unfunded mandates. He also wrote a bill that sought to eliminate capital gains taxes on homes. Portman was a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, vice chair of the Committee on the Budget, served as a communicator between the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans, and was named Director of Management and Budget for about a year under Bush. Portman’s experience with budgetary issues is just what Romney can use.
UNITY, NOT DIVISION
President Obama talked a good game about bipartisanship, but he will likely go down as the most partisan President in American history. Not only does he ignore Republican efforts to help confront problems, but he has separated himself from Congress altogether, trying to paint it as “do-nothing” while he threatens to use executive “authority.” He is still blaming Bush, and he frequently refers to Republican ideas as “extreme” and “backward.” While Obama hypocritically preaches bipartisanship, Mitt Romney has lived it. He regularly met with leading members of a Democrat legislature when he was Governor of Massachusetts. He held these meetings on a weekly basis, not in his own office, but in the office of the Democrat legislators. This is why Romney was able to accomplish so much for the conservative cause, even while battling a legislature that was 85% Democrat.
Likewise, Portman has a history of bipartisanship. According to Democratic Representative Stephanie Jones of Cleveland, Portman, “compared to other Republicans, is pleasant and good to work with.” His work with the IRS earned him praise from Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union: “He set a professional work environment that rose above partisanship and ultimately gave taxpayers more rights.” Clearly, Portman has experience with budgetary issues and bridging the gap between the executive and legislative branches, while working with both parties to actually get productive things accomplished.
I think it would be a mistake if Romney picks someone like a Christie or a Rubio. I have great respect for both men, but they would probably upstage Romney, since they are popular, outspoken, and nationally known. It would make Romney appear weak, as Palin did to McCain in 2008. Palin, not McCain, became the star of the campaign, and McCain’s image suffered for it. It’s one of the reasons that Joe Biden is Obama’s Vice President, not Hillary Clinton. The more boring the candidate, the better it is for Romney. I would prefer a man who is accomplished, who would work well with Romney, not a person that would make a big splash. That would come off as cheap, desperate, and too politically motivated.
I think Rob Portman is the logical pick. Romney is a no-nonsense, get-things-done kind of guy. Rob Portman fits that bill perfectly.