It’s been obvious for a while that whereas Republicans are a bit depressed about their 2012 presidential field, they are very excited about the not-ready-for-presidential-prime-time folk available to fill out the ticket.
Politico’s Alexander Burns wrote about Republican veep-love today:
Even if the class of 2010 is not yet ready to run for president, the range of new officeholders elected in just the past two years assures that the Republican nominee will be able to offset virtually any perceived shortcoming with a running mate who compensates for it.
A candidate light on federal experience could tap Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, perhaps the best-credentialed Republican in the country as a former congressman, budget director and trade representative. A nominee who’s viewed as too conservative could pick a governor from a state Obama won in 2009, like New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Virginia’s Bob McDonnell or Michigan’s Rick Snyder.
For a candidate who struggles to connect with women voters, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire or Govs. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Susana Martinez of New Mexico might help broaden the GOP’s reach. Martinez, along with Rubio and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, could help a nominee who’s unappealing to Hispanics.
And if the nominee has trouble firing up conservatives, nearly all the previously mentioned names would likely do the trick, as would a prominent state leader such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Early ticket-making is all good clean fun, and much of it is designed not to strengthen the 2012 drive for the presidency, but to position someone to be the Big Dog in 2016 if Obama wins a second term.
But I hope Republicans take at least a moment to think about their recent history of really bad running-mate selections. Forget about Sarah Palin, if you can, and look at the last five Republicans who were actually elected vice president.
Their names are Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, George H.W. Bush, Spiro T. Agnew, and Richard Nixon. By my count, that’s two pols who resigned in disgrace, one who became a national laughingstock, one who became a national pariah. Daddy Bush was obviously the respectable exception to the rule.
But one out of five is actually pretty bad. Republicans need to a bit more patriotic in their ticket-making. It can matter.