by Paul Goldman
Once again, it looks like a sitting VA Governor will not be making it to the Final Four (the Fall campaign featuring the battle between the DEM and GOP national tickets). Governor Tim Kaine came close in 2008, nosed out by Senator Joe Biden despite rave reviews for his “American Idol” performances on all the talk shows. Mark Warner had some buzz in 2004 after a big win in the General Assembly. But John Kerry went for John Edwards, who had the better hairdo. Jim Gilmore got a brief note in 2000 after helping George W. Bush win the pivotal VA primary, knocking out John McCain, but Dick Cheney got the nod.
Here in 2012, with Virginia emerging as one of the top 5 swing states (with 13 key electoral votes), it seemed Governor McDonnell might be ready to get the Commonwealth back into the game after 172 years out of it — John Tyler, the second half of “Tippecanoe and Tyler too,” is the last actual Virginia resident to be on a national ticket.
Sorry Governor: As you know, my column for the Richmond Times Dispatch several years ago was the first to suggest you might be Final Four material. Then as the GOP nomination battle heated up, I wrote a column for Blue Virginia explaining your Veep chances were directly related to Mitt Romney’s ability to quickly seal the deal for the presidential nomination. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know you don’t really fit with Santorum or Gingrich. On paper, Romney/McDonnell makes sense.
But like I say, sorry Bobby Boy.
Assuming Romney does somehow manage to win the GOP presidential nomination – he is no lock despite all this “delegate math” silliness – George’s boy will need to pick someone who is a favorite of the Ricky/Newt side of the party as a running mate. The top priority of any nominee is to leave the Convention with a united party. McDonnell has endorsed and stumped for Romney, saying chief executive experience is what is needed in the Oval Office. He is thus a Romney man.
Bottom line: If Romney manages to win this old fashioned bare-knuckles heavyweight fight – in those days, you kept at it until your opponent failed to answer the bell for the next round – McD doesn’t fit the bill as a running mate anymore.
I doubt Santorum would take it and Romney would have to be in a Barry Goldwater position to run with Newt Gingrich (Goldwater couldn’t find anyone with any future ambition to join his ticket, so he took a retiring Congressman).
McDonnell gave it a good run. But he needed Romney to be strong, not weak. McDonnell will stay on the VEEP list for now. But his name is written in pencil, not ink, and unless the political landscape changes dramatically, he will not be leaving Tampa as the GOP Vice-Presidential nominee.