At some point in the next year, the Republican presidential nominee will form a vice-presidential search committee. If history is any guide, they’re going to come up with a fairly long list of potential running mates, and quickly winnow that down to a short-list. When Sarah Palin was announced as McCain’s running mate, I was already familiar with her. I like the almost certain probability that I will recognize whoever is chosen to be on the bottom of the 2012 Republican presidential ticket.
It’s understandable why there’s some speculation about who is going to be on the list. The Republican presidential primary currently seems to be between two white grandfathers in their Sixties: the 2008 presidential also-ran Versus Time Magazine‘s Man of the Year 1994. It’s possible that Bush’s successor as Governor of Texas, the socially conservative mother of five who isn’t Sarah Palin or the other former Mormon Governor with a famous rich father will become a top-tier candidate, but that isn’t certain right now. Meanwhile, thanks largely to Republican victories in 2010, there’s a diverse crowd consisting of figures who probably weren’t ready to launch a presidential bid this year, but who are accomplished enough national figures in Mid-2012.
Here’s the top five. One thing they have in common is that they’re not white guys. It’s possible that we’ll have two white guys on a presidential ticket, but it’s a major plus for a candidate for national office to help Republicans avoid that argument when arguing that the first African-American President doesn’t deserve a second term.
He’s the most-cited running mate for good reasons. He’s young, Hispanic, unambiguously conservative and a swing-state Senator. He recently held his own against John Kerry in a heated public discussion on the debt. Before he became Senator, he was the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and he published a policy book in 2007. As a result, Republicans will feel comfortable arguing that he is experienced enough to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Rubio’s certainly someone Republicans would love to see representing the party on the national stage.
Governor Susanna Martinez of New Mexico
She is the nation’s first Latina Governor, and she comes from a swing-state in a geographically important region. Her husband was a police office and her stepson is in the Navy. Demographically, Martinez may be the most appealing candidate.
Before she was Governor, she was a District Attorney, so even in a ticket with another executive, the party can emphasize her law and order credentials. Due to a hilariously stupid mistake by the campaign of her General Election opponent, she lucked into one of the most effective ads of the 2010 cycle.
When Mitch Daniels was considering a run for President, he mentioned her as a potential running mate. Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis (D) recently suggested she would be a good running mate for Romney. It makes sense, as most of the candidates would benefit from having a running mate with significant foreign policy experience.
Mitt Romney will not want to nominate someone pro-choice, and Rick Perry might not want to nominate someone who was so close to Bush. But she’s still a black woman with more qualifications on foreign policy than any other Republican, with the exception of Obama endorser Colin Powell. And Rice would be quite useful as a running mate for Gingrich, considering his negatives with women, and past problems with racial landmines. Republicans also have a tendency to choose Vice-Presidential nominees who served in significant roles in previous presidential administrations. See George HW Bush in 1980, Jack Kemp in 1996 and Dick Cheney in 2000.
He’s really smart. At twenty, he turned down the best Law School in the nation (Yale Law) and the best medical school (Harvard) to become a Rhodes scholar. That could be quite important for a party tarnished by the likes of W, Perry, Palin, Bachmann and Cain, in the intelligence department. Following his recent landslide re-election, he’ll be a second-term Governor, with three previous years in Congress. He also has significant expertise in Health Care, which will make him an effective surrogate on that topic.
Jindal endorsed Rick Perry in the current primary, but that gives him an edge in convincing conservative voters that the Mormon one-time Governor of Massachusetts is worth voting for.
He was elected to statewide office two years before Rubio, Martinez and Sandoval, so he has a bit more experience. George Will wrote an approving piece about him, so he’s certainly conservative enough. Choosing him as the running mate would be slightly similar to McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin in 2008, except Fortuño would presumably be better-vetted. And he’ll have served longer as Governor, in an area Republicans aren’t expected to win.
Choosing him as a running mate also allows a Republican candidate to emphasize a cause dear to the hearts of some Hispanic voters that has long been in the party’s platform: Puerto-Rican statehood. In these troubled times, there’s an innate appeal to a ticket ambitious and optimistic enough to promise the addition of a fifty-first state to the nation.