With rumors circulating that Mitt Romney will select his vice presidential nominee by the end of this week, and with the Republican National Convention naming several headline speakers recently, the VP race is heating up. Who really has a shot at the nomination, though, and whose hopes are false?
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin has pointed to a pair of vice presidential candidates whose chances are better than most to get the nod: Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va. and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Some see McDonnell as a surprising pick, given he has less name recognition compared to candidates like Sen. Marco Rubio, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, or former Minnesota Gov. Tom Pawlenty, among others. However, McDonnell has several advantages other candidates don’t have. He’s refused to raise taxes while serving as Virginia’s governor, balanced the state’s budget anyways, made the state more business-friendly, and enacted government reforms.
McDonnell has also shown a willingness to work with Virginia Democrats, and won election in 2009 by running against President Barack Obama’s policies without making the race personal. Romney is looking to do much the same this November. In many ways, McDonnell is a safe pick, with solid Republican credentials. That, and he comes from Virginia, which went for Obama in 2008 and is currently a toss-up state in polls.
Ryan is a little less safe than McDonnell, but he brings more policy chops to the table. Ryan made noise in the spring with his budget plan, which would consolidate the tax code from six brackets to two, reduce the corporate tax rate, repeal Obamacare, and overhaul Medicare. Romney supported Ryan’s budget, which ultimately did not make it past the Democrat-led Senate.
Ryan has fought fiercely against Obama’s policies and proposed conservative alternatives to them that are appealing to Republican voters and Romney. He will beef up Romney’s policies, and has the smarts to defend them. Also, although Wisconsin has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold, Republicans are hoping to build off of the momentum of Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in the recall election in June. The state currently leans Obama.
Other names that Rubin has suggested include Sen. Rob Portman, R-Oh. and Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J. Portman has been suggested as a top presidential candidate because of his center-right views and connections to a crucial swing-state, while Christie would lend star power, swagger, and experience dealing with a predominantly Democratic state legislature to the table.
– Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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