Marco Rubio, Rob Portman and Paul Ryan are names bandied about frequently by those “in the know”. All three bring qualities to a GOP ticket that could help Mr. Romney. Rubio, youth, energy, new ideas, fresh face…oh, and yes, Florida’s 29 Electors. Ryan, bold, fresh, honest, Midwest, maybe even brings Wisconsin. Portman, Ohio, Ohio, Ohio and has the demeanor and background that Romney with which Romney seems most comfortable. All good choices, all possibilities.
But why have not all the experts mentioned the one guy with the least downside, the one guy who can bring personality, national campaign experience and a resume at least as long as a previous US President. In addition, he can bring unity with elements of the GOP that Mr. Romney had trouble with during much of the Primary season. He has demonstrated an ease and elegance as a media personality and will be tougher for that media to demonize because of it.
Jeb Bush? Mitch Daniels? Nope. But definitely a former Governor and one that hails from the State of another US President – Arkansas.
Yes, that would be Governor Mike Huckabee. Just because he is now a television personality and his race for President seems to be ancient history should not make him an also-ran or a long shot. I am simply amazed that he has not been mentioned more prominently in discussions of VP picks. Heck, even the late-Tim Russert even referred to him as Vice-President Huckabee, not just once, on his Meet the Press show… and he predicted that in 2008!
So why is Huckabee largely, if not totally absent from the current discussion? Maybe few are doing their homework. Maybe he is just not the flavor of the month. Either way, Mike Hucakabee brings quite a bit of upside to the ticket that few others can match. More on that in a minute. Let’s look at the others who will pass Romey’s first test – is he comfortable with the VP candidate both in terms of experience and the difficult-to-measure interpersonal relationship factor.
Mr. Romney seems to be a very prudent tactician, someone who will be most comfortable with someone with a seasoned lengthy resume and a steady hand. And of course when all is said and done, the Presidential nominee MUST find sympatico with his running mate or the whole enterprise is likely to fail. That seems to take Ryan, Rubio, Condi Rice, Christie, Sandoval, Martinez, Bachmann, and Haley out of the mix, not because there is a dearth of talent, political savvy or intellect. There is no doubt these are the next generation of GOP leaders, any one of them could be President one day. But in the end, Romney will not take a flyer on a sexy pick, someone out of the blue since it is just not his style.
That leaves us with folks such as Bush, Daniels, Portman and Huckabee. Both Bush and Daniels have clearly stated no interest in the job. If called, of course, it would be difficult to turn down, but one is left with the distinct impression that neither Bush nor Daniels really want the job and Romney knows better than to pick someone with ambivalence or grudging acceptance. He needs total energy, commitment and total focus. These guys would have the second two, but can they build up to the first without the undoubted desire to run? I think not.
Portman is an interesting possibility. Great resume, proven conservative support. Served in two high level positions within the Bush Administration so he brings an in depth understanding of the Executive Branch. His service in the House and Senate bring him valuable experience in the Legislative arena too. Moreover, his demeanor is right in line with Mr. Romney’s public persona. Rumors have it that they really get along well too. And of course, there is always that little State of Ohio and its 18 electoral votes plus his potential influence in the broader Midwest.
But Huckabee is no after thought and could easily be the choice when all is said and done. Yes, there are always negatives or someone who might be able to bring an electoral-rich state such as Florida would be great. But on the whole, who better than Huckabee? He has enough experience (at least as much as Bill Clinton had when he ran for an even higher office) to take over as President should the need arise. He brings a needed punch of energy and support from the the more conservative factions of the GOP. He brings strong support from the Faith communities. He is wonderful debater and will acquit himself well against Joe (oh no there he goes again) Biden. His ease on television and gravitas with the press is better than most. He can talk coherently and in depth without teleprompter. He has even been praised by Bill Clinton and other Democrats over the years.
Another positive for me is the lack of downside to this choice. Yes, with Portman there is not too much downside in the General, but with Ryan, Rubio or any of the rest, the Democrats will undoubtedly attack their inexperience as executives (pause while you laugh at the one)…… Ryan will be taken to task for throwing Granny over the Cliff and destroying Social Security. Rubio will be classified as a pandering move to attract Hispanics and Latinos. Couldn’t possibly be chosen due to his intellect or political acumen.
And when all else fails, let’s not forget his well-known interest in reducing obesity, something he has personally experienced through diligence and structure in his own life. Yes, there were people who cared about obesity before the First Lady. So, if he wins, he might be tasked by President Romney with helping Mrs. Obama continue her crusade against childhood obesity in the private sector where we hope she will be come 2013!
So, all hail to Mike Huckabee, the next VP of the United States!