Modern VP nominees aren’t chosen because they come from swing states:
Forget Ohio’s Rob Portman or Florida’s Marco Rubio, two Republican senators most pundits believe Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate. Think instead Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., or New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, or Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
The reason: Political pundits are wrong when they predict that Romney will pick Portman or Rubio because they will give the ticket a huge Electoral Vote win in their key swing states. In fact, in modern presidential history no nominee has picked a running mate just because he thought the No. 2 could deliver his big home state.
That’s certainly true, but in fairness to Rubio boosters the chance of helping the ticket in Florida is not one of the most important reasons why they think he should be on the ticket. It is on their list of reasons, but it’s not why they want him on the ticket. The argument for Rubio as VP is flawed in other ways, too, but it is easy to imagine Rubio enthusiasts accepting Goldstein’s argument while still insisting that Rubio would be a good running mate for other reasons. I would make the same observation about Portman. Portman isn’t a likely VP pick because he comes from Ohio, but because he would be more or less automatically credible as the person to be next-in-line to the Presidency. That doesn’t mean that Portman definitely will be the VP nominee, but he still seems the most likely.
Goldstein’s analysis* loses me is with the list of alternatives, none of whom appears to be able to pass that readiness test. Martinez would make sense as a running mate or even as a presidential candidate in another four years, but otherwise it’s too soon for her. Besides, the argument for selecting her is even more reliant on dubious electoral strategies of trying to peel off Hispanic voters and flipping New Mexico to the Republican column, and in that case the electoral vote reward is paltry by comparison with other states. The problems with putting Ryan on the ticket are numerous, and I won’t rehearse them again here. Thune? Seriously? How does his name keep getting added to these lists? No offense to Thune, but this is a politician whose two distinguishing traits are that he defeated Tom Daschle eight years ago and voted for one of the most unpopular pieces of legislation in the last twenty years (i.e., the TARP), which is a bit of baggage that Portman doesn’t have.
Update: Major Garrett makes an even more persuasive case for Portman as VP:
Portman can’t fix Romney’s flaws. Neither can anyone else. That means all other things being equal, Romney will look for someone he knows and trusts; who has delivered for him; who can put a vital swing state in play; who can immediately help him tackle the hardest issues if he’s elected; and whose selection tells the country Romney’s first big decision as a nominee wasn’t a gasket-blowing gamble or one festooned with the garish and outmoded trappings of regional or ideological balance.
* The Martinez, Ryan, and Thune suggestions were made by Paul Bedard, who was summarizing Goldstein’s argument, and they were not included in Goldstein’s original analysis. I apologize for the error.