Skip to content

With Santorum and Gingrich gone, who will Romney turn to?

June 8, 2012

The decision by Newton Leroy (‘Newt’) Gingrich to suspend his campaign, announced on 2 May, 2012, was a rational if belated response to the delegate and polling arithmetic. For suspension, read cancellation and we witnessed the end, in all but name, of the race for the Republican nomination. Step forward Mitt Romney, presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for President of the United States.

The departures of Santorum and Gingrich did not constitute the ideal scenario, of course, for an Obama campaign all too happy to see the Republican pack continue to spend huge sums tearing itself apart. So might we have expected Santorum’s and now Gingrich’s departure to cause something of a shift in the betting markets in favour of the former Governor of Massachusetts? Expect what you like, but in fact there was scarcely a ripple of interest. The inevitability of Romney as GOP nominee was already pretty much factored in, well before Santorum and Gingrich woke up to the inevitability of it all.

This is not to say that interest in the political markets was entirely unaffected. Instead attention turned to the former Governor’s next important decision. It is a decision which no Presidential nominee takes lightly, and which some have handled much better than others. It was the decision that probably won JFK the White House by delivering the South to the Democrats. It was also the decision which turned a little-known Governor of Alaska into at one point becoming the favourite in some books to stand a heartbeat away from the office of the Presidency of the United States. Mitt Romney will soon need to make this decision, to choose whom he wants on the ticket as his Vice-Presidential running mate.

The key question is whether he will follow the 2008 Republican precedent in selecting a potential game-changer or instead will he plump for an established, mainstream safe pair of hands? Well, if you’re heading for almost sure defeat, a safe but unexciting choice might mean losing by less. In Presidential politics, however, losing by one electoral vote produces the same outcome as losing by a hundred. Put another way, in a state of the world where you are likely to go down by three points, anything which shakes up the range of reasonable outcomes around this expectation is a bonus. When you are down, volatility is very much your friend. This was the probable rationale for the selection by John McCain of Sarah Palin.

So will Romney plough the same furrow as the man who beat him to the nomination in 2008? I tend to doubt it. The highly controversial 5-4 decision of the US Supreme Court to allow so-called “SuperPACs” to spend unlimited sums of money helping or hindering individual candidates is almost certainly to the advantage of the Republican party in general, and Governor Romney in particular. Money talks in a big way in US politics and the presumptive Republican nominee knows this very well. He has the confidence which the cushion of a lot of money to spend tends to give a candidate. He is also a very cautious politician by nature and will not want to risk losing an election which he believes he might win by choosing a maverick running mate who could so easily run out of control. I think that rules out surprise picks. Instead, Willard Mitt Romney is likely to choose a candidate who could potentially turn an important toss-up state into the probable column. Of all VP picks on the radar, that comes down to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. To this list, you might add Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels, but if the election turns on Indiana, Mr. Romney has probably lost already.

The former Governor will also want a running mate who is a known quantity, who is likely to complement the man at the top of the ticket and is unlikely to rock the buttoned-up Romney campaigning style. This probably rules out Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, but just about pulls in Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (though his is not really a swing state); Governor Daniels and Senator Portman also fulfil this category.

Now solve the simultaneous equation and we have a candidate who might just fit the bill.

Is the Ohio Senator just the ticket for Mr. Romney? Or are we all in for a Palin-type surprise?

We shall see.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: