The Great American Veepstakes

By Playboy.com Staff

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With the Republican nomination all but locked up, the media moves on to the next great guessing game: who will Romney choose as his running-mate?


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?


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. 


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. 


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.


Mike Huckabee

Age: 56

Birthplace: Hope, Arkansas

Education: Ouachita Baptist University (B.A.)

Experience: Lieutenant governor of Arkansas, governor of Arkansas.

Religion: Southern Baptist

Upside: Huckabee is a jack-of-all-trades: governor, author, ordained minister, musician and talking head. He’s had a pulpit to preach from for a long time and he’s made fairly good use of it. His strongest suit as far as securing the nomination goes is immigration, where his moderate and at times inspiring views stand in stark contrast to the “crocodile moat” proposed by some members of his party. The rest of his views tend to line up with the Republican stereotype, and he has managed to avoid all the ugly mudslinging by staying just on the fringes of the national limelight.

Downside: The 1,033 pardons he handed out as governor double the number handed out by his three predecessors combined, so some grumbling about him being soft on crime should be expected. His views on energy dependence and the environment tend to conflict: in 2008 he promised that by the end of his fictional second term the U.S. would be self-reliant, but he also wanted to “leave the earth better than we found it” and he’d be hard-pressed to do both. That could cost him in the agriculturally minded Midwest, where Romney needs all the help he can get. Huckabee’s also a home-grown hero; his views on foreign policy are nearly nonexistent.


Mitch Daniels

Age: 63

Birthplace: Monongahela, Pennsylvania

Education: Princeton University (B.A.), Georgetown University (J.D.)

Experience: Director of the Office of Management and Budget, governor of Indiana.

Religion: Presbyterian

Upside: Daniels brings with him the electoral votes of Indiana, another swing state high on the list Republicans need to capture if they want to take back the White House. His Midwestern roots will help Romney in a place he fared poorly in the primaries, and Daniels’ pragmatic views and moderate temperament could rally the middle ground votes the party desperately needs.

Downside: The water surrounding Daniels is always still; as a speaker he lacks enthusiasm, and while he won’t rock any boats within the party, he also won’t rally the base or shake any foundations outside of it. His rebuttal to the State of the Union was more than moderate, and many Republicans feel he drifts too far over the center line for them to bestow the type of power the Vice President would have within the party. Opponents will be quick to point out his gross underestimation ($50-60B) for the cost of the Iraq war, which totaled somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.9 trillion when all was said and done. 


Eric Cantor

Age: 48

Birthplace: Richmond, Virginia

Education: George Washington University (B.A.), M.Sc from Columbia University, William & Mary Law School (J.D.)

Experience: U.S. representative for Virginia’s 7th District, House chief deputy whip, House minority whip, House majority leader.

Religion: Judaism

Upside: Not that it matters in a country founded on the First Amendment, but Cantor’s religion brings with it a substantial “in” with a key demographic. He’s a darling of the party, was voted unanimously to the position of House majority leader in 2011 and is quickly becoming the voice on the hill for the GOP. His tenure in the House has seen him chair a handful of committees relating to both finance and foreign policy, so his credentials are strong, and his ties to the Tea Party movement could bring that fringe into the fold.

Downside: Within the party, Cantor has very little downside, aside from the fact that he would have to give up his position in the House. But he’s so stereotypically Republican that his appeal for undecided voters might be limited. He’s a bit of a bureaucrat and, like Ryan, perhaps too robotic to wrangle substantial appeal on the national campaign circuit. Party powers might be averse to having their golden boy flayed too early in his rising career. 


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