Vice Presidential Fight Club
The first rule of Vice Presidential Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Vice Presidential Fight Club…at least if you’re on the short list of candidates who might be one of people being vetted.
Rob Portman: The Swing-State Statesman
Steady, smart and deeply experienced, Rob Portman is a Republican U.S. Senator
for Ohio. As a swing state, Ohio is in the top rank, meaning Portman is going to land in the top tier of speculation, regardless. Portman’s experience and gravitas make him a natural: he’s been a member of Congress, a Senator and (more controversially), George W. Bush’s budget director. Fun fact: Portman is one of the best debaters in the business.
The Takeaway: The anti-Joe Biden. He won’t make mistakes, he won’t shoot from the lip, and he’d meet the “ready to be President from Day One” test.
The Takeaway: Marco Rubio would be the boldest pick of the bunch, and the one most likely to change the race.
Kelly Ayotte: Granite State Rock Star
Sarah Palin may have been the second woman to ever be nominated for Vice President, but Kelly Ayotte would be the first from a swing state (New Hampshire is tiny, but in this race, every electoral vote counts.) She’s a currently seated Senator, and a member of the rock-star class of 2010 conservative leaders. Ayotte is charismatic, and she’d certainly put the Democrats on defense.
The Takeaway: She’s not in the top tier, but if the Romney campaign is looking for a woman candidate, they can’t go far wrong with Ayotte.
Bobby Jindal: The Smart Guy
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is another one of a new, younger generation of risisng conservative stars. Jindal’s brilliance is indisputable, and his record as a principled conservative would make him a popular choice with the base. Jindal is also of Indian descent, and would be the first person of South Asian extraction on the ticket on either side.
The Takeaway: Bobby Jindal is smart, knowledgeable and would be interesting and newsworthy… and that counts for a lot.
Tim Pawlenty: The Quiet One
Tim Pawlenty’s Presidential campaign didn’t set the world on fire, but the ex-Minnesota governor has a following, is a calm, steady and a VP out of central casting. Not a lot of surprises would come from a Pawlenty pick, but not a lot of risks either. He could play very well in the Midwest.
The Takeaway: Not in the top tier, but a safe bet if others fall by the wayside.
The Wild Cards:
Other names you hear in circulation range from interesting to improbable: Paul Ryan, Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Susannah Martinez, Former Secretary of State Condi Rice, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Snooki. (OK, I was kidding about the last one.) There are also dozens of other names of relatively serious people who’d like to be considered, and who may even be mentioned, but the wildcards are unlikely, at best.
The Takeaway: Romney’s operation isn’t big on risk-taking picks, so it’s hard to imagine them picking someone off the list above. In a race this close, it’s certain that Team Romney will make a conservative decision (in both senses of the word) on the VP pick.
To the victor go the spoils!
Dina Fraioli is a political message strategist and media consultant in Washington DC. You can find her on Twitter at @DinaFraioli