Monday, July 18, 2011

A Republican Ticket That Probably Can’t Lose In 2012

It’s just speculation at this point, but I think there is a Republican ticket that probably can’t lose, barring the unforeseen, the 2012 presidential election.

No votes have been cast yet; in fact, we are a month from the Iowa Straw Poll. So it is clearly speculative that the frontrunner, Mitt Romney will win the GOP nomination. Nevertheless, Mr. Romney does seem on the road to win in Tampa. Governor Rick Perry will probably enter the contest now, and that will slow the Romney train down, but neither Mr. Perry, Mrs. Michele Bachmann nor Mr. Tim Pawlenty seem yet to have the political force to stop this train on the tracks.

There are several excellent vice presidential choices for whomever is nominated. These include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and several of those now running for the top spot, i.e., former Governor Pawlenty, current New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, current Governor John Kasich of Ohio of and former Speaker Newt Gingrich. But there is one potential vice presidential choice whose impact on the election I think would tower over all others.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida would almost certainly accomplish what any ideal running mate could bring to a ticket. Not only would he bring Florida, with its huge number of electoral votes, to the GOP side (Florida’s votes went Obama in 2008), as the first Hispanic nominee for vice president, he would almost certainly swing many in the huge American Hispanic vote from the Democratic column to the Republican side. A charismatic, young and eloquent figure, and a candidate from the South, he would provide needed balance to Mr. Romney, a northerner and a Mormon. Although only in his first term in the U.S. senate, Mr. Rubio has considerable background in Florida state politics. (Considering that Mr. Obama was in his first senate term in 2008, and had much less experience in state politics than Mr. Rubio, the Florida Republican’s credentials could not be credibly challenged by Democrats.)

I am sure that, at this point, Senator Rubio will deny any interest in the vice presidency, and he would probably be sincere. Like Governor Christie, he is not ready to run for the presidency (although both are prominently mentioned as candidates in 2016 or 2020), but in September, 2012, in Tampa, it would be very difficult for Mr. Rubio to say no to an invitation from just-nominated Mr. Romney. (I point out that even Lyndon Johnson, the powerful senate majority leader in 1960, could not resist the invitation from John F. Kennedy.)

I realize that Mitt Romney, despite his growing lead now, might not win the GOP nomination. Anything can happen in U.S. politics these days. Even so, Senator Rubio might prove an irresistible choice for Mr. Pawlenty should he win the nomination. (In that case, two young GOP nominees on the ticket could prove just as effective as the youthful Bill Clinton-Al Gore ticket was in 1992.)

As I said at the outset, this is all just speculation. But I would suggest that it might be worthy to store these thoughts for a moment about a year from now when the GOP nomination almost certainly be decided, and the vice presidential choice becomes the number one item of political discussion, and possibly, key to the outcome of the November election.

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