On the Tonight Show Tuesday night, Jay Leno asked Mitt Romney to give one-word descriptions of possible VP candidates.
Here's how Romney answered:
Chris Christie: "Indomitable." (Leno apparently wanted some version of "fat" and suggested "man of girth.")
Marco Rubio: "The American Dream."
Paul Ryan: "Creative."
Nikki Haley: "Energetic."
Donald Trump: "Huge"
Rick Santorum: "Press Secretary
Okay, so now for the inevitable parlor game -- what does all this reveal about Romney's mindset?
Here are a couple take-aways.
1. Nikki Haley is even more unlikely. She was already reeling after dramatically failing to deliver anything in South Carolina and by a sinking reputation with the tea party.
Now notice Romney's description of her: "ENERGETIC."
Back when Sarah Palin was running, that's how the establishment described her when they tried to dismiss her credibility without dismissing her fans. In fact, I even had an entire archive, titled "Sarah Palin brings energy to the party", which was full of the back-handed compliments.
The biggest offender? Romney himself!
Check just two of these out.
Romney, to myFox Phoenix, March 17, 2010:
"She's a good source of energy and vigor in our party."
Mitt Romney, to David Letterman on March 2, 2010:
DAVID LETTERMAN: What about that Sarah Palin? She's not ready to be President, is she?
ROMNEY: She's terrific. She really is. She's terrific. She's got energy, passion. By the way, be careful what you say about her, by the way.
So, if you really want to figure out where Romney's mindset is, let that word "energy" be your guide, and Haley falls even lower in the ranks.
b. Rubio is still top dog. Think about it. Romney gave him the very convention-friendly "American Dream" description.
He was nice to the others, but can you imagine a convention video, introducing Chris Christie as "indomitable" or Paul Ryan as "creative"?
Those are nice compliments, but they're not historic ones that appeal to the Romance of America. Indomitable and creative candidates don't bed down in the Shining City on the Hill. But those holding fast to the American Dream do.
Rubio is the guy to beat.
c. Santorum's out. "Press Secretary?" Of course, he's a competitor, and Romney's not supposed to compliment him, but the race is pretty much over and Mitt could've offered a kind word without endorsing him. Romney's still clearly miffed.