Here’s a rundown of some possible Republican vice presidential candidates and why they won’t be picked. Bear in mind that this article doesn’t represent a prediction, but an analysis. Prospects are named in alphabetical order:
Charlie Crist – Because of the slick metrosexual image he projects, Crist won’t appeal to a large portion of the meat-and-potatoes Republican crowd. The too-tan skin, the snow-white hair and the waxed eyebrows are just too much for most regular guys, even if they do appeal to some fractional portion of the female conservative electorate.
Mike Huckabee – So many religious conservatives are demanding that Huckabee be added to the ticket, it just might provoke McCain’s contrarian nature into giving Huck the old heave-ho. There’s also the concern that having two gaffe-prone white guys on the ticket is too risky in the age of the modern media, where every mistake and mispronunciation is published on a million blogs and websites within hours. Huckabee has a fantastic future ahead of him, but it may not include the senior Senator from Arizona.
Kay Bailey Hutchison – Hutchison is no spring chicken at 65 years old, and she has said publicly that she doesn’t even want the job – she’d rather be governor of Texas. There’s also the little nitpicky fact that Hutchison is a centrist Republican, as is McCain. So this would be a moderate-moderate ticket, not likely to appeal to the conservative base.
Bobby Jindal – Though Jindal’s conservatism is manifested in very practical ways (i.e. opposition to corruption, reform of Louisiana’s state government), his devout Catholicism and his youth can be used against him. Critics will draw attention to what they see as a quaint and backward perspective on the world, and they will point out that at age 37 he is younger and less experienced that Barack Obama.
Joe Lieberman – Despite McCain’s close friendship with Lieberman, this is a mistake that must never be made. Lieberman is a liberal hawk, which is exactly how many conservatives see McCain. The Lieberman option would be a disaster for McCain’s candidacy and for the Republican party, and Senator McCain is smart enough to know that.
Tim Pawlenty – Like John McCain, Pawlenty is a very intelligent and very glib individual who sometimes makes off-the-cuff remarks that he later regrets. Pawlenty is in some respects a younger version of McCain, and despite their mutual admiration, the two don’t make a complementary pairing.
David Petraeus – A McCain-Petraeus ticket would be an all-military ticket (remember that McCain was a naval officer), and though most conservatives would love it, at the same time it would give many Americans the willies. In this case, the upside is the downside. Besides, not enough is known about Petraeus’s views on moral and political matters.
Rob Portman – Portman is just the sort of wonky politico-type whose expertise would compensate for McCain’s non-detail-oriented approach to politics. Portman’s experience is extensive and varied, his resume dazzling. But the campaign might have a hard time selling this former member of the Bush administration to the American public, and anyway, he’s believed to have his eye on the Ohio governor’s mansion.
Condoleeza Rice – Though some may consider it a coup for McCain to have a black woman for his running mate, Rice is probably too closely associated with George W. Bush to help McCain win any significant portion of the black vote. Besides, Ms. Rice has repeatedly and adamantly stated that she has absolutely no desire to be anyone’s vice president. After nearly eight years of working in the White House, Rice is believed to be yearning for the quiet academic environment of her beloved Stanford University.
Tom Ridge – Ridge certainly has the homeland security chops and serious demeanor to head up the anti-terrorism front of a presidential campaign (or adminstration), but he’s old and white and boring. Ridge won’t dazzle the younger voters and he won’t win over the swing voters. He’s better suited to a role in the cabinet than to one on the campaign trail.
Mitt Romney – If McCain is looking for someone to perform as a surrogate campaigner, he’d better look elsewhere. No one has ever spent so much money to perform so dismally on the campaign trail and at the polls as Romney in the Republican primaries. Romney can occasionally put together a few good minutes on the campaign trail, but he’s too surly and too obnoxious – and too ambitious – to be an effective running mate. Romney is also a pathological flip-flopper, and that means that he isn’t to be trusted.
Mark Sanford – Sanford is a youthful and appealing party loyalist, an ideological conservative, and a good public speaker. Sanford might be an effective campaigner among the southern conservative set; those who want their politicians to be like their pastors: true believers. The evangelical community is leery of McCain’s conservative creds, and it may be that Sanford can seal the South for McCain. Unfortunately for Sanford, he’s a southern white man, and if McCain wanted one of those he would probably pick his friend Mike Huckabee.
Michael Steele – The Republicans would love to have a conservative black leader step up to the plate, and Michael Steele’s name has frequently been mentioned in that context. Unfortunately, it seems to this commentator that Steele’s reputation exceeds him. His supposedly great oratorical skills are dwarfed by those of such stalwarts as Allan Keyes and Mike Huckabee, and his career seems to be stalled somewhere between minor state office and the major national stage.
John Thune – The future of the Republican party resides in people like Thune, a regular looking guy who can appeal to Southern conservatives, midwestern evangelicals, and western libertarians alike. His resume isn’t as thin as some would suggest, with three terms as a member of the US House of Representatives and one term as a US Senator, but he is still rather young and Republicans do prefer their politicians to be rather more seasoned. More importantly from the strategic standpoint, Thune is from South Dakota, a state with only three electoral votes. And his profile is very low even in neighboring states, so he brings very little to the table electorally.
Have I missed anyone? Please let me know with a comment if there’s anyone else whose resume you would like me to shred.