This story was originally published online on July 17, 2012.
Speculation has grown in recent days over who presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate. The following are some of the names that have been mentioned, their background, and how they could help – or hinder – Romney’s presidential run.
Romney met with Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana on a fundraising visit to Louisiana. Jindal has campaigned for Romney recently. The 41-year-old has experience helping to handle disasters such as the 2010 Gulf oil spill. His personal story as a US-born son of Indian immigrants also could resonate. But his staunchly conservative views on social issues – he opposes abortion and gay marriage – could drive away more socially-liberal and independent voters.
Earlier this month, Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, said that he was considering a female running mate. Late on July 12, Drudge Report broke the story that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was “near the top of the list.” The next day, however, a spokesperson for Rice told ABC News that she was “still not interested” in being vice president.
Rice, who is currently a professor at Stanford University, would potentially bring a breadth of direct foreign policy experience that Romney lacks. But her ties to the administration of George W. Bush, which was deeply unpopular by the end of his second term, could be judged as a negative by swing voters.
A name that was brought up with some insistence during the Republican primary process was that of Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. The 44-year-old could potentially appeal to independent female and younger voters. She does not have the national name recognition of other possible candidates, however.
As Mitt Romney’s nomination appeared all but official, speculation grew that he would tap Senator Marco Rubio of Florida as his running mate. In June, the Associated Press reported that Romney’s campaign was “thoroughly vetting” the 41-year-old.
Rubio’s Hispanic roots — his parents emigrated from Cuba — have been seen by some as potentially helpful to Romney’s outreach to that growing population. But a comment by Romney would appear to indicate he’d like a more experienced partner. Speaking about former Vice President Dick Cheney, Romney said “[t]hat’s the kind of person I’d like to have — a person of wisdom and judgment.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s blunt, off-the-cuff style could work as a contrast to Romney’s serious, even stiff demeanor. Christie could be the campaign’s symbolic grenade launcher, attacking President Obama while Romney takes the high road.
But that is also why Christie could be a dangerous pick. His tendency to go off-script might be too risky for Romney’s campaign advisers.
Former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, whose own presidential aspirations petered out early in the Republican primary process, has campaigned for Romney this summer. Gary Marx, executive director of the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition, told the Christian Science Monitor that Pawlenty is "appealing and acceptable” to all sectors of the Republican party.
His national name-recognition is questionable, though. According to a CNN/ORC International Poll, 43 percent of those surveyed said they had never heard of him. The same poll showed 40 percent of Republicans did not have knowledge of Pawlenty.
US House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan endorsed Romney before Wisconsin’s Republican primary in late March, after the presidential hopeful had backed Ryan’s budget proposal. Although his name has been in the mix, Ryan refused to answer whether he is being considered as a vice presidential candidate on Sunday’s “Face the Nation.”
The Wisconsin representative gained national attention as the GOP leader of the contentious federal budget discussions. But it remains to be seen if Romney’s camp would want to have a figure so connected with that heated debate on the ticket.
CNN reported that Senator Rob Portman of Ohio claimed last week that he had three separate meetings with members of the Romney team in Boston. The senator insisted those meetings did not involve the vice presidential selection process.
Ohio figures to be a hotly contested state in November, and the Romney campaign could try to lock it up by selecting the senator. Portman was picked to address supporters in that state on Romney’s behalf on Monday, where President Obama was to visit the same day.
But considerations of personal image and comfort could also come into play. In April, former Bill Clinton adviser Paul Begala wrote he was certain Romney would choose Portman, because the senator would fit in with Romney’s “buttoned-up image.”