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The Great American Veepstakes
  • May 09, 2012 : 13:05
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It is almost a foregone conclusion that Mitt Romney will be running a full-blown presidential campaign come November; he’s all but sealed up the nomination with 919 delegates and has swept the last 14 primaries. We’re confident this is going to be a first ballot type deal.

And with that, we’re on to the next round of speculation: the running mate. Who, how and when will Romney choose as his wingman? He’s got options and viable ones at that; the question is which faction, wing or demographic does the Romney brain trust see as the most important in the general election?

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Marco Rubio

Age: 41

Birthplace: Miami, Florida

Education: University of Florida (B.A.), University of Miami (J.D.)

Experience: Junior U.S. senator (F.L.), Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Religion: Roman Catholic

Upside: Demographics. Not only is Rubio the “crown prince” of the Tea Party, he’s the supposed “son of exiles,” the child of Cuban immigrants in a key electoral state. The ideologues of the former will be more inclined to line up behind a moderate Romney with Rubio on the ticket, and the latter might find it in their hearts to forgive the fracas of a borderline-racist primary season with one of their own second in line.

Downside: Rubio lacks experience on the national stage, though it’s worth noting that the sitting president was little more than a junior senator prior to taking office. His economic record is sparse and by no means sparkling. His parents’ plight as fleeing immigrants from an oppressive regime also has some holes. As the story originally goes, they fled Cuba in 1959 to escape communism and Castro; in reality they left in 1956, during the reign of Batista, and probably seeking a more lucrative life in America. Whether that compounds the damage already inflicted by “100-foot-wall–building” Republicans remains to be seen. 

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Paul Ryan

Age: 42

Birthplace: Janesville, Wisconsin

Education: Miami University in Ohio (B.A.)

Experience: U.S. representative from Wisconsin’s 1st district, chairman of the House Committee on the Budget.

Religion: Roman Catholic

Upside: Ryan is the operative cog in the Republican economic machine. He’s the author of “The Path To Prosperity,” the Republican answer to Obama’s 2013 budget and the party’s long-term proposal for “American renewal.” It’s a partisan plan, universally despised by House Democrats and only disliked by the few Republicans who still follow Hammurabi, so it and he fit the bill for a united front against the left.

Downside: Ryan is more of an operator than a front man; his name is only as well-known as it is because his fingerprints all over the GOP financial plan cannot be ignored. Prior to his public political career, he was a backroom guy and speech writer for Jack Kemp and Sam Brownback, and many Republicans feel that is where he is best served. He might not be enough of a counterpoint to the oft-mechanical Romney. 

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Rob Portman

Age: 56

Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio

Education: Dartmouth College (B.A.), University of Michigan (J.D.)

Experience: U.S. representative from Ohio’s 2nd District, U.S. Trade representative, director of the Office of Management and Budget, U.S. senator from Ohio.

Religion: Methodist

Upside: By far the most experienced name cropping up for the nomination, Portman is a longtime Republican servant and a Bush-era banner man. He’s one of the most mild-mannered politicians the right has to offer, and the long list of Democrats he’s struck down in Ohio will certainly appeal to the party’s kingmakers who see winning the state as key to winning the general. His experience with both internal and external economic concerns can’t hurt.*

Downside: *It can. His opponents will be quick to point out that under Portman, U.S. public debt rose $469 billion. His strong ties to the Bush clan won’t help his public appeal, and his tendency towards pragmatism won’t strengthen his bid with the far-right factions within the party.

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