Romney must choose his VP candidate wisely
Photo Illustration by KAVYA PATHAK
Now that most others have dropped out of the Republican primary race, Mitt Romney will most likely represent his party against President Obama in November. But that’s only half the battle. He still hasn’t completed one of the most difficult tasks of a primary race: choosing a vice president.
This is the task that can make or break a campaign, and it is one that the Republican party must redeem itself in after the spectacular failure of Senator John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin. Though meant to give his faltering campaign a dynamic new face, the strategy completely and utterly failed as Palin floundered under the media spotlight, making a joke out of herself and leading voters to question her competency if she were to step in as president.
For Romney to ensure he does not falter in this monumental decision, he must choose a candidate that can not only handle the pressures of the campaign trail, but who can also compensate for Romney’s weaknesses.
First, whoever Romney picks, the vice presidential candidate must be bland. No skeletons in the closet, no cringe-worthy comments, no foolish remarks to be mocked on “Saturday Night Live”. The candidate must be composed, articulate, and, most importantly, able to interact effectively with the press without getting irritated or flustered. After an entire campaign of Palin complaining about “gotcha” journalism, voters simply will not put up with another round of finger-pointing at the media.
Here’s where someone like Senator Rob Portman from Ohio would work well, as a knowledgeable, articulate speaker and debater with little chance of blaming the press or making gaffes that would lead to weeks of mockery on late-night television. After its painful wake up call in 2008, the Republican party must prove that it has learned its lesson; vice presidents serve to support the show, not steal it.
Romney’s running mate must also serve to strengthen the ticket by making some of Romney’s weaknesses less apparent. Known for his formal, slightly aloof manner, Romney’s vice-presidential choice must be accessible and relaxed, helping to counter accusations of Romney’s lack of common appeal. Choosing a candidate from a minority background could also help Romney by giving him a better chance at gaining the votes of non-white voters. After losing the minority vote so spectacularly to Obama in 2008, the Republicans must learn their lesson and begin courting minorities, particularly Latinos, who are less likely to consistently vote for Democrats. Senator Marco Rubio from Florida would aid the Romney campaign in this aspect, using his Cuban heritage and Tea Party ideals to bring in more of the Latino vote.
Lastly, whoever Romney chooses must be capable of helping create solutions to strengthen the economy. With Romney’s continual focus on jobs and fighting the recession, his running mate must reflect a similar commitment to improving the economy. Representative Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, known for his controversial budget plan calling for Medicare to become a voucher plan, is a viable option, as is Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, whose experience as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget makes him another strong candidate.
Four years ago, the nation watched a campaign collapse, dragged down by a terrible choice of vice president. If the Romney campaign plays its cards right, it could make its candidate a strong contender in the race against the President. But if not, be prepared for a repeat of 2008.
By KAVYA PATHAK