Romney-McDonnell 2012: How Likely?


    (On a related note, a judge has rejected Newt’s and Missing Village Idiot’s lawsuit to get on the Virginia Republican’t primary ballot. So, it will only be Willard and Mr. Black Helicopters. Fun times. – promoted by lowkell)

    by Paul Goldman

    Looking at history, the longer the GOP presidential contest goes on, the less likely a Mitt Romney/Bob McDonnell combo would be the takeaway. As a matter of political math, Bob McDonnell is a good choice for Mitt Romney as long as the head of America’s latest Royal Family doesn’t have to cut any political deals to win the nomination.

    Why? Because Bob McDonnell’s strength is his weakness: he is a good match to Romney in terms of a VEEPstakes defined by religion, region, record, resume, and really nice hair (plus a very photogenic family of women compared to Romney’s all-male brood). This is why, despite being laughed at by so many months ago, I raised the Romney/McDonnell combo before anyone else in Virginia. The two men matched very well…provided Romney didn’t have to fight but so hard for the nomination.

    Because: If Romney needed help to cross the finish line with a key bloc of voters, then that posse would want one of its own riding in the shotgun seat.  

    Eisenhower took Nixon after a tough fight, because he needed someone with street cred in the conservative/McCarthy wing. Because Nixon had made his reputation chasing down Alger Hiss, the Californian fit the bill. Plus, Nixon was Ike’s “spy” inside the California delegation while Big Sur Governor Earl Warren ran for the presidential nomination that year. Later, Governor Warren would become Chief Justice Warren due to a deal Ike made to win the nomination.

    JFK took LBJ because he feared losing the South, in part due to the open hostility of certain Southern preachers to his Catholicism.

    Goldwater took Bill Miller in 1964 because no one from the moderate/liberal wing of the party would run with him!

    Nixon took Spiro Agnew, rookie Maryland Governor, because the former VEEP had cut a deal with Strom Thurmond to keep the South out of Ronald Reagan’s hands.

    Carter took Mondale because he needed to unify the party after he got elected in large measure running against the Democratic liberal establishment. Senator Mondale was the protege of the leader of that establishment, Senator and former Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

    Reagan won easily in 1980, which allowed him to actually propose running with former President Jerry Ford, who his conservative base despised. When that didn’t work out, he chose George HW Bush, who was pro-choice, pro-ERA, and against Reaganomics. But Reagan had won easily, so he could do what he wanted.

    The same for George HW Bush when he won the nomination. He took Senator Dan Quayle, who most Republicans thought was a caddy at the country club.

    In recent times, Bill Clinton and Bush 43 won fairly easy, so they got to take who then wanted.

    President Obama and Hillary Clinton had a tough fight. It is clear that the Obama, had he won easily, might have picked Governor Tim Kaine as his running mate. But instead, he knew that Hillary had depicted the rookie Illinois Senator as lacking in foreign policy experience. Senator Biden had run for the nomination against both of them, losing badly for a second time. Historically, two straight bad losses, over a twenty year period, is not the resume of a Vice Presidential candidate.  But Obama needed to cover his downside on foreign policy, so he choose Biden over Kaine, who had no such experience.

    John McCain actually won his nomination fairly easily when you look at it: he took South Carolina, which meant the end of Huckabee, and then Florida, taking out Rudy Giuliani. So he had a free hand, and apparently wanted to pick Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, who would have been the first person to run and lose as the VEEP guy on both a Democrat and GOP ticket. When that didn’t work out, he took Sarah Palin, the choice of no one, not even McCain’s wife. Had McCain had to fight for the nomination, he would have been forced to pick at least a marginally qualified person.

    Now comes 2012. Assume the GOP winner is Romney, which is no sure thing, despite what the commentators are starting to say. If Romney gets into a close fight with either Gingrich or Santorum, forcing them to duke it out past Super Tuesday into the winner-take-all states, then Romney will likely need to take someone favored by the Gingrich-Santorum-Perry side of the party. He will need to leave Tampa with a unified GOP. Mike Huckabee might fit that bill. This is why I wrote earlier this week about Rand Paul, starting a discussion of what can happen if even a guy like his dad builds a constituency in a losing run, but one Romney would need to win in the Fall.

    As for Governor McDonnell, he is acceptable to all GOP factions, but not a favorite son of any. However, assume Romney takes out his rivals quickly, and the leaders of the GOP get on board early (since they are all so anti-Obama, what choice will they really have?). This would give Romney a free hand to take someone who is acceptable all the way around, but not on the top of anyone’s list.  McDonnell avoids getting Romney involved with Washington, he is a Governor, with a military record, popular in a swing state. Again, McDonnell’s family is female dominated, while Romney’s is male dominated. And most important: McDonnell is not a Gingrich type; he can play second fiddle.

    Naturally, all the things discussed in 2009 will be back. But in the final analysis, McDonnell, as long as he doesn’t have a scandal in his background, should pass the media test and disappear into small TV markets never to be heard from again, except during the one Vice Presidential debate.

    Odds for McDonnell: assuming Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are to be believed about declining to run, and assuming  Romney realizes he doesn’t want to take a Senator since that drags Washington into the equation, then McDonnell is in the top three, with the sleeper Mike Huckabee if Romney is worried about the Christian evangelical vote which he must have. Stay tuned…

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