The EFM Feature

Hey, David, at least you watched the debate. Amidst a draining week of travel and so forth, I couldn’t even make myself do it. I think I’m about ready to join the candidates’ aides–and, from what I read this time around, the reporters–in the “We’re Officially Sick of These Things” camp. And although I know I’m going to get spammed for this, it was even more difficult to watch knowing that the increasingly annoying but not increasingly probable Ron Paul was on stage but someone who might actually be the nominee, Fred Thompson, wasn’t. That’s not to say the other frontrunners were wrong to do the debate–I know they had to–but, what can I tell you? I have debate fatigue…and Paul fatigue.
All that is a long way of saying (a) I have nothing to add on the actual debate, (b) I can’t wait for them to cut the number of people on stage, and (c) I apologize for being out to lunch all week.
Related to getting back in the saddle, one of our longtime readers asked what we think about who would be a good runningmate for Governor Romney were he to win the nomination. I have a few thoughts on this.
First of all, one of our fellow EFM contributors has already nominated, well, herself. Romney-French does sound like a fine ticket to me.
Secondly, I’d even take issue a little bit with our e-mailer’s question, but not in a bad way. I think Governor Romney should consider doing what then-Governor Reagan did in 1976–that is, pre-emptively naming his runningmate before the convention. Reagan did that when he was running behind President Ford in the primary and needed attention and votes. He shocked everybody by naming Sen. Richard Schweiker (R-PA), who wasn’t exactly a conservative firebrand. I don’t think Governor Romney is in the kind of dire straights in which Reagan often found himself in 1976–that’s what happens when you challenge an incumbent president, even an unelected one–but it would still be an attention-grabbing move. Even better, if he chose a runningmate known either for being or appealing to evangelicals, it would go a long way toward defusing the religion issue. Also, if he picked someone who was perceived to have a longer pedigree in conservative circles, that would help.
Before anybody jumps to any conclusions, I should say that this is purely my own scheme, not campaign scuttlebutt we’ve heard somehow. (If only we were privy to such things–it’d be fun!) But if it were to become a reality, I’d think Governor Romney should pick someone who would “balance” him regionally and religiously. Best of all worlds would be to get somebody from South Carolina, in whose important primary he is not doing so well. So, why not Governor Mark Sanford or Senator Jim DeMint? Both are known conservatives; Sanford is a former congressman who gained fame for bringing live pigs into the state capitol to dramatize his opposition to pork-barrel spending. He endorsed Senator McCain in 2000 but has kept his powder dry this time around, and he’s been elected governor twice now. DeMint is, as I understand it, an evangelical, and he is one of Governor Romney’s big supporters in the Senate, where he’s also an anti-pork crusader.
If the South Carolinians aren’t interested, I really like Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS) but I’ve heard rumors he supports Mayor Giuliani. However, he’s also been a lobbyist, and this is not the year for that. I also think Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) is about the best thing since bread came sliced, and he’s a lock to become Louisiana’s governor this fall, but he needs to stay there for a while.
Of course, there is no chance Governor Romney will indulge this hair-brained scheme of a “Schweiker strategy,” so what about if he waits until the convention (Lord willing)? Obviously, it’d then be common practice to consider his ostensibly vanquished opponents. For starters, Senators McCain and Brownback obviously can’t stand him and would never consider being his vice-presidential candidate. And I’m not sure McCain would ever consider being VP, period. Nor would Mayor Giuliani. It’s just not their kind of gig. Governor Huckabee is, I think it’s clear, actually running for vice president, and as I mentioned, I think it would be good for Governor Romney to have a high-profile evangelical actually on the ticket. He’s also quite charismatic and would provide regional balance. However, I think that picking the evangelical who inveighs against Wall Street, has said he’d support a federal smoking ban, and who gives the Club for Growth and other anti-taxers heartburn would bring more problems than it would solve. And then, of course, there’s Senator Thompson. He’s from the South, which is good, and his lack of executive experience wouldn’t be a big deal if he were VP. (That could presumably be his executive experience.) He could use his star power and charm to schmooze people across the country (or even the world). However, one of the main things a good vice president can do (as then-VP Johnson did for President Kennedy) is to pull together votes in Congress, and Senator Thompson has already said many times that the Senate wasn’t his thing. All things considered, though, if I had to pick one of the other contenders, he’d be it.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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