In his 3½ years in the White House, President Obama has been blaming “the previous administration” of George W. Bush at every turn. The fact that Obama pulls out the Bush card every chance he gets demonstrates two things – 1) Obama hasn’t much to brag about. 2) Yet at the same time many Americans still don’t exactly have fond memories of his predecessor.
Mitt Romney has little, if any connection to George W. Bush or the Bush family. Whatever enduring distaste Americans might have towards W., it looks rather silly for Obama to accuse Romney of “going back to the previous eight years” when Romney has given no indication he would do so. But picking former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would throw all that out the proverbial window. If Romney picks Rice then Obama could legitimately campaign against Bush in 2012 in the way he did in 2008. Sure Obama has a less than stellar track record but it’s not clear if Americans dislike his less than stellar track record more than they dislike Bush’s less than stellar track record. If that’s the case then picking Rice would be a gamble for Romney unlikely to yield a winfall.
Of course, Rob Portman’s name has been bandied about as a possible running mate for Romney for some time. Before his election to the Senate in the 2010 mid-terms, Portman served in the Bush Administration first as U.S. Trade Representative and later as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Picking Portman could certainly make Romney vulnerable to being tied to the Bush Administration especially concerning fiscal policy. Yes, I know, Obama isn’t in a position to lecture anyone about fiscal policy but he does anyway. In fact, just today while speaking in Virginia, Obama said that Romney is “not serious” about reducing the deficit. Nevertheless, it’s not clear that Americans are any fonder of Bush’s fiscal policy than they are of Obama’s. Yet with that said, unless you a) live in Ohio or b) are a big policy wonk then chances are you have no idea who the hell Rob Portman is. So Romney picking Portman wouldn’t hurt him in the way picking Rice would.
Earlier today, Quin put forward some extensive thoughts on why Romney would not be wise to pick the former Secretary of State to be his number two. Amongst other things, Quin highlighted some of her foreign policy shortcomings with respect to Iraq, North Korea and her support of the Kyoto Protocol. I would add that Rice has long been sympathetic towards the Palestinians. Indeed, as Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary points out, Rice “was a persistent critic of Israel even once falsely comparing the plight of Palestinians to that of African-Americans prior to the Civil Rights era.” Considering that Romney will be going to Israel at the end of the month to host a fundraiser, the idea of putting Rice on the ticket is bound to dampen the enthusiasm of pro-Israel donors.
Now frankly I think this Condi Rice VP business is nothing more than a trial balloon which will, take your pick, never get off the ground, let out a lot of air or just plain burst.
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