Monday, May 14, 2012

Is Pawlenty more likely than Rubio?

Via their discussions with Romney insiders, here's the latest speculation on the Veepstakes from Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is said by insiders to want it the most and also to annoy some aides with his aggressiveness; Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is not being as seriously considered as popularly believed because aides don’t see him as experienced enough or appropriately vetted.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez are also seen as too untested and lacking the national experience that would assure officials at Romney headquarters in Boston that they weren’t walking into another Palin problem.

That desire for a safe or "incredibly boring white guy", as one GOP official calls it, has led the team to seriously consider Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Rob Portman, and Bob McDonnell.

Marco Rubio, therefore, would not fit the definition.

As for Mike Huckabee, the campaign reportedly thinks a Huck pick would show weakness and wants to avoid the perception of pander.

Campaign officials have floated the idea of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, now a Fox News and talk-radio host, as a pick who would strengthen Romney’s hold on the base. But Romney does not want to signal weakness. So under current plans, the pick will not be a blatant pander to the base – once again, the opposite approach of 2008.


Maybe the inexperienced Martinez and Haley could be seen as panders, but Huckabee -- by everyone's account -- is more than qualified, energizing, supremely vetted, and appeals to a number of different demos (evangelicals, blue collar workers, the south, the Midwest).

A pander is a niche pick to one specific demo of someone who otherwise wouldn't be considered. But Huck isn't that. Again, he has cross-demo appeal, and if a number of those important demos happen to be particular strengths of his, that's a bonus, no?

If the Romney squad views picking Huck as a pander, it's turning rule one of selecting a Veep ("do no harm") into every one of the Ten Commandments.

"Doing no harm" doesn't preclude "doing lots-of-good." You can do both of those things at the same time.

If, indeed, Romney's team is applying this logic, a Rob Portman pick seems inevitable, and Tim Pawlenty, who has no signicant strength with any group, a close second and nipping on Portman's heels.

[Hat tip: Jordan Fabian]