One of the most eloquent speeches I’ve ever heard concerning America’s ugly fiscal situation was delivered by Indiana governor Mitch Daniels at the 2011 CPAC conclave.
Daniels painted a dark yet vivid picture of the country’s financial state and the need for Americans to mobilize to tackle the new “red menace” with the same spirit and dedication that previous generations marshaled when fighting the Nazis and Communism.
Of the multitude of Republican presidential wannabes clamoring for attention and support from those in attendance, Daniels alone came off like a president and not like a cheerleader captain spouting off a canned speech laced with pithy partisan zingers crafted by a team of speech writers.
And unfortunately for the GOP and the US, Daniels abstained from a presidential run for familial reasons and recently shut the door as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney by agreeing to serve as Purdue University’s next president.
Daniels would have been a natural fit for Romney, a “safe” selection that would have brought fiscal cred and gravitas to the ticket without overshadowing the top name on the GOP marquee.
Sans Daniels, quality running mate options remain though none possess the same statesman-like quality the Indiana governor would have brought to the ticket.
Bobby Jindal- While I’m from Louisiana and have knew Jindal prior to his failed run for governor in 2003, I can objectively argue that he is the best option for Romney. The nation’s first Indian-American governor is a non-traditional Republican with tremendous appeal to the party’s conservative base. Jindal would be the first Roman Catholic on the Republican ticket in 48 years.
No other potential running mate is better versed on health care and Jindal’s selection would inject some badly needed young blood into the Grand Old Party. While the mainstream media has been hyperventilating about the critical Hispanic vote, Jindal could open doors to Asian voters, an often-ignored segment of the American electorate.
Susanna Martinez- Florida US Senator Marco Rubio is the consensus choice for vice-president, but the governor of New Mexico would be a better selection. Martinez, America’s first Republican Latino governor, could be the surprise pick that reshapes the presidential race.
Though she has criticized Romney’s awkward “self-deportation” position, Martinez could be the Republican Party’s only hope of winning enough Hispanic support to tip the Democrat-trending scales in Colorado and Nevada while also putting New Mexico back in play. Differences between Martinez and Romney on a comprehensive immigration policy could be massaged. Martinez is pro-life and earlier this year lost her hair-stylist over her opposition to gay marriage.
A Romney-Martinez ticket could make some purple states red and turn Democratic spin-doctors purple, as it wouldn’t fit their “Republican war on Hispanics and women” narrative.
John Thune- Romney has often been described as a “central casting presidential candidate”. It could be said Thune would a “central casting running mate”. Thune is a telegenic, relatively young conservative who, like Jindal, would also be a fresh face for the party. Thune backed Romney early and stumped for him in the Iowa caucuses. The junior senator’s professed support for the Green Bay Packers will be of more value than his home state’s three securely red electoral votes.
Pat Toomey- If Romney were still struggling with uniting the conservative base of the party behind his candidacy or had Rick Santorum been able to drag the nomination battle into June, Toomey would have been the obvious choice to close the gap between Romney and Santorum vote. In addition to bringing in TEA Party stragglers, the Pennsylvania US Senator’s presence on the ticket would make the Keystone State competitive at a minimum.
Rob Portman- Pundits and politicos are betting Romney will choose for Portman for the veep slot for good reason. Portman is the ultimate safe pick combining his federal budget experience and hailing from a state that is the cornerstone of any potential Republican presidential victory.
The Ohio US Senator got behind Romney before the South Carolina primary and has campaigned at the nominee’s side and as a surrogate so there is a comfort factor. And while there’s no question that Portman is a good fit for Romney; the larger question is whether Portman can do as much for the Republican ticket as the aforementioned.