Any Portman in a storm for Romney VP?
Posted by James McPherson on July 16, 2012
In honor of Romney, the Honeymooners’ great “poloponies” scene.
OK, so I couldn’t resist the pun above (previous headlines show that I rarely can, much to my wife’s dismay)–but I do think that Ohio Sen. Rob Portman might be the best of Mitt Romney’s boring choices for running mate. Portman is so boring, in fact, that when a friend ask me a few days ago whom I thought Romney would pick, I completely forgot Portman , responding: “Maybe Tim Pawlenty as the safe (boring) pick. Maybe Marsha Blackburn or Kelly Ayotte or Susan Martinez to shake things up a bit. Maybe Paul Ryan if he still thinks he needs to go right. My pick as the one most likely to help, though I don’t know if he’d do it (or if anyone can help enough): [Mike] Huckabee.”
I haven’t paid as much attention to the VP process as I did four years ago when I recommended Sarah Palin and Joe Biden as VP picks (and no, I don’t think the campaigns were reading my blog and following my advice–if they had been, John McCain would probably still be sending me hate mail).
The New York Times reports that Romney has apparently made his choice, and may announce it this week (Same-day note: The Romney campaign denies that a decision has been made, though in Romney’s case he might have changed his mind, anyway.) The timing, Slate points out, “would give the Republican a chance to change a political conversation that is currently focused squarely on Romney’s time as head of Bain Capital.” The Times seems to think that Pawlenty will be the nominee.
Pawlenty would be no big surprise. He has been consistently overrated as a presidential candidate, the Republican equivalent of Democrat Dick Gephardt–a dull, Midwestern white guy who offends no one but whom, as the Times article suggests about Pawlenty, “lacks a fiery presence and the ability to excite a crowd.” On the other hand, an NBC piece handicapping potential candidates notes about Portman, “While ‘boring’ has an upside, it also has a downside, too. A potential Romney-Portman ticket has been dubbed ‘boredom squared.”
Though it might take some attention away from the Bain mess and other problems associated with being rich, I think naming the VP nominee this week would be a mistake for Romney. For one thing, he’s about to leave for the Olympics–and anything that connects Romney to the Olympics could be good for him. Well, perhaps anything not involving prancing ponies. But by the way, aren’t the new Olympic uniforms, made in China and boasting a prominent polo player logo, a perfect symbol for Romney’s America?
For another thing, few people are paying attention to politics right now, anyway. (That’s also why Romney should release a deluge of his tax returns on a summer Friday, perhaps during the Olympics,definitely no later than the Friday before Labor Day.) Americans have short attention spans–one reason that Portman’s previous job as George W. Bush’s budget director probably wouldn’t hurt him or Romney with the electorate. But Romney likely won’t take that chance, or go for any of the even more daring options. And it probably won’t matter, anyway.