Finally, the answer on whom Romney should choose.
(Page 2 of 2)
Acknowledging all that, it is also true that Santorum might marginally weaken the ticket exactly with the constituency identified by the Sabato Crystal Ball analysis (mentioned above, in the opening paragraph) as the “swing group” that is otherwise most accessible and productive for the Romney campaign (i.e, independent white women aged 30-49). He also seems to offer marginally less upside in Pennsylvania than Toomey does, because he seems to evince more fervid feelings among opponents.
Speaking of Pennsylvania, by the way, there may be a psychological factor that would help for either a Santorum or a Toomey pick. For whatever reason, and despite its seminal importance in American history, Pennsylvania is the only large state that has really been short-changed at the national executive level, with the forgettable James Buchanan as the only president hailing from there, and only Biden (identified with Delaware) and George Dallas (under James K. Polk) as Veeps from there. This snub probably sticks in Pennsylvanians’ craws. Home state pride is a wild card that might not even show up in polls, but might factor into voting-booth decisions.
Nonetheless, choosing Santorum would represent more a play for certain national constituencies than a play for Pennsylvania. If, by August, Romney seems to be treading water and trailing in the polls, Santorum might be a game changer, even if a slightly risky one.
OKAY, DRUM ROLL PLEASE. Even though about 12 people would make fine choices for Romney, two of them do stand above the rest.
1b. Sen. Jon Kyl, AZ — It is an odd historical oddity that, beginning in 1952, every Republican presidential ticket has included either a Nixon, a Dole, a Bush, or a senator from Arizona. With due apologies to the great Barry Goldwater, Kyl might be the best of that entire conglomeration. One of the most universally respected senators across the political spectrum, Kyl is knowledgeable on a host of issues, plain-spokenly articulate every time he opens his mouth, solidly conservative, very accomplished legislatively — and eminently safe, with no obvious chinks in his armor for the media or the Obamites to attack. Already, a small buzz is starting to grow around Kyl, with others suggesting him here and here and here and here.
If Romney continues to look like he’s in a good political position heading into the GOP convention, so that he doesn’t need to swing for the fences but instead wants to give voters a sense of his decision-making solidity, then Kyl could really be the man. Most experts, after all, think that voters adjudge Veep choices more as a cue into the executive decision-making of the presidential candidate than as an individually decisive factor in casting their ballots. Kyl is so eminently visualizable stepping into the Oval Office (if something happens to Romney) that voters would immediately “get it,” and probably approve.
Kyl also adds particular heft where Romney has no real record, namely foreign and defense policy. From Kyl’s long service on the Judiciary Committee, he also is well equipped to carry the fight to Obama on the subject of Eric Holder’s corrupt Justice Department, and also to parry attacks on the Supreme Court that Obama is expected to make if the court throws out all or part of Obamacare. With Romney having shown a bit of ineptness in describing legal issues and explaining conservative jurisprudence, Kyl’s abilities here could be tremendously important.
Finally, while few people think Republicans are seriously at risk of losing Arizona, Kyl does perhaps, at the very margins, offer an overlooked geographical advantage. In a very close election, many observers are starting to think the entire outcome could depend on a razor-thin difference, one way or another, not in Ohio but in Iowa. Well, Kyl grew up in Iowa, and his father actually was a U.S. congressman from there. (Iowans as young as 58 might still remember his father fondly.) This might not make a huge difference, but even a couple of thousand votes might mean all the marbles. Combined with Kyl’s overall knowledge of issues unique to the southwest (again, perhaps a marginal help in Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico as well as Arizona), the Iowa connection might be a tiny-but-important bonus for a Romney campaign.
1a. Gov. Bobby Jindal, LA — No single person better combines the ability to excite the Republican “base” with the breadth of resumé experience, the reformist record, and the proven ability of crisis management than does Jindal. At age 25 he rescued Louisiana’s state health-care system from Medicaid-induced collapse; he helped forge a national Medicare solution (along Paul Ryan’s later lines) that won over Democratic moderates like John Breaux and Bob Kerrey but fell short when Bill Clinton pulled the plug during the Lewinsky mess; he ran Louisiana’s second-largest system of colleges; he served as the number two guy at the federal Department of Health and Human Services; he served three years in Congress and emerged from Hurricane Katrina as the only Louisiana politician with his stature enhanced by his highly effective responses; and he has been the most successful conservative reformer (and the only re-elected one) ever to serve as Louisiana’s governor. As governor he pushed through some needed ethics reformed, pared state government, kept taxes low, handled the BP oil spill superbly, and pushed through (partly in his first term, partly in his second) a series of education reforms (expanding choice and improving accountability) that, combined, probably outstrip even those of Florida’s Jeb Bush and Wisconsin’s Tommy Thompson as the boldest and best school improvements in modern American history.
Some will gripe that Jindal adds no geographical advantage to the ticket — and they are right. But that consideration pales in comparison with what he will add in one particular area. It is almost certain that, regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on Obamacare, the question of “what would Republicans do to replace it” will dominate campaign coverage throughout the summer and perhaps all the way until Election Day. Romney himself, as the author of Romneycare and a once-avid advocate of an individual insurance mandate, is poorly equipped to handle this question. No high-ranking elected official in the country, however, can match Jindal for his expert knowledge on health-care policy, nor can anybody else match Jindal’s ability to explain positive, conservative alternatives to the Left’s state-controlled systems. In short, he takes a major Romney weakness and turns it into a strength, on an issue that really could sway the whole election.
Jindal also will be hard to attack. He has been somewhat inoculated by none other than James Carville, who said (for the dust-jacket of Jindal’s excellent book) that “I don’t agree with the guy on everything, but Governor Jindal has provided competent, honest, and personable leadership throughout some of Louisiana’s toughest times.”
Alas, nobody is perfect, and while national conservatives love Jindal, numerous Louisiana conservatives (some of them quite perspicacious, not to mention friends of mine) will bend anybody’s ear about certain alleged shortcomings and apostasies. Individually, their complaints may have merit. Collectively, they still don’t add up to an effective indictment of somebody who has had more success with conservative governance than anybody in Louisiana history.
Conservatives also will complain that Jindal is sometimes too inaccessible, and that his own geniality masks a serious political ruthlessness in his administration. In truth, there is a certain air of LBJ-like political muscle — definitely minus the corruption, thank goodness — that comes from the administration. On the other hand, in the hardball realm of national politics in which the Left and its media allies have no compunction about smearing conservatives relentlessly, conservatives could probably use a measure of ruthless effectiveness.
If Bobby Jindal and his team are deceptively tough, it also means they are tough to beat. Conservatives and Republicans of all stripes should celebrate such a quality — and Mitt Romney darn well ought to make use of it.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online