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Home/Daniel Larison/Portman Is Still the Most Likely VP Choice

Portman Is Still the Most Likely VP Choice

Erin McPike reports on the likely short-list of Republican VP candidates:

Mitt Romney may be tight-lipped about his vice presidential short list, warning that only he and longtime aide Beth Myers know who is on it, but a close examination of the campaign’s activity suggests four contenders have risen through the ranks: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Except for Ryan, these are all plausible and qualified running mates. If I had to guess, I assume that Ryan has been included on the list to appease his adoring fans among movement activists and pundits. The most likely choice is still Portman, and he is probably also the best choice. By all accounts, Portman is very competent. That should limit the political damage from his associations with the Bush administration, which was on the whole the opposite of competent. Portman has nothing to offer non-interventionists and conservative realists, but then neither does Romney, so that isn’t surprising. The selection of Portman wouldn’t excite very many people, but it would satisfy almost everyone that Romney needs to satisfy, and it would be a defensible and more responsible choice than some that he could have made.

Another interesting item from the report is that Chris Christie effectively eliminated himself from consideration by being the prima donna that he has been all along:

Sources close to the campaign say Christie fell out of favor with Romney’s inner circle in Boston because he was late to events and made too many demands. His public commentary often comes off as brazen, and he’s regarded by many in the political class as something of a risk.

This suggests that the campaign might have seriously considered him for the VP slot. The curious thing is that there was so much speculation surrounding Christie over the last year and a half. There was the ultimately doomed effort to drag him into the presidential race, which didn’t make sense, which was followed by the equally inexplicable speculation that he might become Romney’s running mate. He wasn’t qualified for either position, but for whatever reason he generated so much enthusiasm among pundits that he was treated as a “plausible” candidate for both in spite of himself.

McPike also confirms that the repeated references to John Thune as a possible VP were meaningless:

Some news outlets have painted South Dakota Sen. John Thune as a dark horse for the short list, but since the dawn of the general election phase, he has yet to stand with Romney on stage in a swing state or headline a campaign event in the Midwest, suggesting his purported rise was something of a myth all along.

Yes, it was a myth, just as the story of John Thune as the possible “dark horse presidential candidate” was a myth. Thune has had no business being on lists of presidential or vice-presidential candidates. The fact that Thune was repeatedly mentioned for both was always a worrying sign that the GOP didn’t have that viable candidates available for the 2012 cycle.

Update: The Hillreports that Ann Romney has said that one woman is being considered for the VP slot. Other than Gov. Martinez, I can’t think of one that would make any sense for the ticket.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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