With literally weeks remaining until the 2012 National Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida, GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has an incredibly tough choice to make as to who will be his running mate for the all-important Presidential election in November where he will face the incumbent Barack Obama. Over the last week or so, rumours have started circulating that Romney is drawing ever closer to making an announcement on the decision that could determine the fate of his presidential bid and, on 17 July, the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail identified three names that it believes have made the final cut in Mitt Romney’s selection process. The three names identified, Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal and Rob Portman, are all of a relatively high profile and, in this article, I am to discuss the merits of each of these suspected candidates and will also provide a verdict as to who I think should be selected from the apparent three-man shortlist.
Romney undoubtedly has a very tough decision to make. It is likely that his campaign team will want a candidate to be selected who can bring balance to the ticket and broaden the Republican’s support base in time for the election and may aim to do this by selecting someone who can offer an alternative to Romney’s wealthy image, someone who can offer experience of Washington, someone who can help win over votes from ethnic or social minorities or even someone who can offer a more conservative image to the moderate image that Governor Romney has been perceived to have presented.
One of the three suspected vice-presidential candidates, former Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty, appears to meet at least a couple of the requirements that would be needed to be an effective running mate for Mitt Romney. Pawlenty’s background appears to be very different to that of Romney and it is perhaps because of this that the BBC notes T-Paw’s appeal to ‘working’ and ‘lower-middle’ class voters. Moreover, Pawlenty appears to have very clear positions on certain issues such as abortion and this may be utilised by the Romney campaign to answer the critics who accuse Romney of being a moderate. It is these two qualities of Pawlenty that make it clear to see exactly why he is said to be being considered as a running mate. The question remains, however, as to whether Pawlenty’s own ill-fated presidential campaign and apparent lack of public appeal within the media will eventually lead to another candidate being selected.
A potential candidate who might beat Pawlenty to having their name placed on the Republican ticket is the current Governor of Pelican State, Bobby Jindal. As the first Indian American to have been elected as the governor of an American state in the history of the United States, Jindal’s appeal as a potential vote-winner is immediately obvious. Still relatively young, Jindal already has experience of Washington politics having served in the House of Representatives and rose to national prominence due to his role following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill; Jindal’s fierce criticism of Barack Obama’s reaction to this disaster has been documented in his magnificent book ‘Leadership and Crisis’. Similar to Governor Pawlenty, Jindal is known to be very socially conservative in his outlook and has made his opposition to Obamacare very clear and, again, this may help rectify a potential problem of Romney being perceived as too centrist by the Republican right. Jindal, if selected, appears to have an enormous amount of potential as a running mate and his record in Louisiana provides the all important idea that, if he was unfortunate enough to have to step up to the presidency, he would be able to handle the transition well. It is for these reasons that I, personally, believe that Bobby Jindal would be an excellent selection for Romney and one that would offer much more than Tim Pawlenty despite my great amount of respect for him.
The third rumoured option is the Ohio Senator Rob Portman. Portman’s selection would hope to secure more votes in the battleground state of Ohio for the Romney campaign whilst Portman would also bring with him a significant amount of experience in terms of Washington politics having served in both Congress and also served in the George W. Bush administration; this, however, may not be viewed as a generally good piece of experience by some voters. Portman’s selection would seem risky as, apart from experience, he brings little to the table that is not already there unlike Jindal and, to some extent, Pawlenty.
Having had a brief look at the three candidates, I cannot help but think that Romney has to look to Bobby Jindal when selecting his running mate. Jindal, when considered, brings much more to the table than both Pawlenty and Portman. He brings youth, leadership, intelligence and experience of Washington politics. More than the obvious though, Jindal brings with him the promise of a future for the Republican Party and a change from the stereotypical image of Republican Party candidates.
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