Given Mitt Romney’s tendency to play it safe, some insist that Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty are the clear favorites as a running mate choice. But look closer and it becomes tough to see what they add to the ticket.
Because Romney is a largely undefined figure, his selection of a running mate matters more than it did for past nominees. Voters know he was a successful businessman but don’t have a sense of how he would govern. Romney needs to fill in those blanks, and there’s no better way to do so than by picking a running mate to articulate what his campaign stands for.
Portman, for all his strengths, is a consummate Beltway insider — one of the worst political sins in this antiestablishment political environment. Even more damaging, he worked for President George W. Bush. On the positive side, there’s a chance Portman could tip Ohio to Romney, plus he gets along with Romney, and he’s vetted. But the GOP field is deep with candidates who have similar strengths.
Pawlenty has been a loyal surrogate, and could appeal to working-class voters. He also hails from the upper Midwest, an important swing region. But his own political track record isn't impressive: He failed to win 50 percent of the vote in his two gubernatorial races and failed to meet expectations in his own short-lived presidential run.
By contrast, if Romney picked Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, he could inaugurate the “fix-it” ticket, featuring two turnaround executives with a record of results. By picking Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, he could make some inroads with the solidly Democratic Hispanic electorate and build an inspirational narrative around the creation of an “opportunity society.”
Of course, each of these choices carries varying degrees of risk. But by picking a talented running mate and delivering a winning convention speech, Romney has the opportunity to convince skeptics and redefine the election. Read more
—Josh Kraushaar, Hotline Executive Editor
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
The Truth About Romney’s Tax Plan: It’s a Pipe Dream
[National Journal, 8/8/12] John Diamond, the economist Mitt Romney is holding up as a shield against attacks on his tax plan, says it’s “absolutely not” possible, politically, to pass the sort of Romneyesque tax plan that Diamond predicts would create an additional 7 million jobs over the next decade.
Welfare Fight Heats Up, Gingrich Joins the Fray
[National Journal, 8/8/12] Romney and Newt Gingrich joined forces on Wednesday in a double-barreled attack on President Obama for what they see as his attempt to remove work requirements from welfare — charges found to be baseless by welfare-policy experts and news organizations. Former President Bill Clinton also jumped into the fray in defense of the Obama adminstration.
A Fight Gingrich Has Been Spoiling to Have
[National Journal, 8/8/12] Newt Gingrich, dog whistle in hand, held a conference call with journalists to discuss how the "radical" president was in the process of secretly trying to undo the work mandate of the 1996 welfare reform law as part of a liberal plot to pad the welfare rolls. The call was sanctioned by the Romney campaign, which touted some of his remarks in a press release.
Ad Linking Romney to Death of Laid-Off Steelworker’s Wife Inaccurate
[CNN, 8/7/12] A new ad by a super PAC backing Obama appears to blame Romney for a woman’s death from cancer after Bain Capital shut down the steel mill where her husband worked. But there was actually a five-year interval between the plant’s closure and her death — and she had her own health insurance for part of that time.
Conversation Nation: Romney Rising on the Radar, Obama Drawing Negative Talk
[National Journal, 8/8/12] There’s relatively good news for Romney in NJ’s latest Conversation Nation poll. He’s registering on the radar of more Americans, and more are bad-mouthing Obama.
Romney’s Popularity Stays Low, Obama’s Is Better
[ABC News, 8/8/12] Romney has the lowest personal popularity rating of any presumptive presidential nominee in midsummer election-year polls dating back to 1984.
Polls: Romney Leads in Colo., Trails in Va., Wis.
[National Journal, 8/8/12] Both presidential campaigns will spend Wednesday in Colorado, where a new poll shows Romney with a slight lead over Obama. But Romney trails the president in two other surveys in Virginia and Wisconsin, suggesting that Obama ultimately retains the advantage.
What Bobby Jindal Would Bring to the Republican VP Slot
[The Atlantic, 8/8/12] Bobby Jindal is probably on the back end of the VP contender list, but there are good reasons why Romney should consider him. The Atlantic's David Graham describes Jindal’s experience, Catholicism, and the fact that he isn’t one of the "incredibly boring white guys."
A Tale of Two Unelectable Candidates NEW!
[ABC News, 8/8/12] Romney and Obama are still two unelectable candidates, ABC's Matthew Dowd writes, just as he did in a column six months ago. Both of them only have a chance at winning a presidential election because they are facing each other. In any other circumstance, neither would win.
Early Voters Gain Influence
[Wall Street Journal, 8/7/12] A record number of Americans are expected to cast their ballots in the weeks before the traditional Election Day on the first Tuesday in November. The shift has the campaigns changing their tactics to build operations aimed at turning out early birds.
Nevada a Test Ground for Campaign Economic Themes
[Associated Press, 8/8/12] Perhaps more than any others, Nevada voters are witnessing the wide gulf between the competing economic visions offered by both candidates. The state leads the nation in unemployment, bankruptcies, and foreclosures — and voters are just as far apart on the solution as the candidates themselves.
Obama Campaign App Concerns Some Privacy Advocates
[Washington Post, 8/7/12] A free iPhone app introduced last week by the Obama camp that allows canvassers to identify nearby Democrats has some privacy advocates calling the easy access a little creepy.
President Sees Victory Road Through Colorado
[The Hill, 8/8/12] Wednesday’s trip marks the sixth time the president has visited the Centennial State this year and his 11th since taking office. The president’s Colorado roots — he accepted the nomination at the 2008 Democratic National Convention there — and his role as “consoler in chief” after the Denver suburb shooting last month could solidify his support in the state.
For a Mormon Political First, a Mormon Blessing? NEW!
[The Washington Post, 8/8/12] Will Romney ask someone from the Mormon church to offer a blessing at the GOP Convention? While the candidate never discusses his church while campaigning, a Mormon chosen for this honor would not be the first religious member to have a key role at a GOP convention.
Romney Campaign Running Ads on…Pandora?
[Pro Publica, 8/8/12] The Romney campaign is requesting that Pandora users share their email address, one of the increasingly sophisticated tactics campaigns are using to target narrow groups of voters online.