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The Case For Romney

Earlier this week, Robert Novak announced that Senator John McCain would announce his running mate. That turned out to not happen, but it brought me up short: if I want to weigh in on who should run with Senator McCain, I better get off my butt and say something before it becomes moot.

Back during the primary season, I weighed heavily my choice for president. I shuffled and reshuffled the candidates over and over, and when the day of the New Hampshire primary came, I cast my vote for Fred Thompson.

That didn't work out too well, as a couple of weeks later Thompson dropped out. So I fell back to plan B, setting aside emotion and instinct and going purely on intellect. On that basis, I threw my support (such as it was, as I'd already had my vote) to Mitt Romney.

That worked out pretty much as well as my support for Thompson. The guy who eventually prevailed (nominally) didn't even make my top three.

Anyway, now McCain is the presumptive nominee, and he needs a running mate. I think it would be a mistake for him to announce it too much before the convention -- it would come across as a desperate grab for attention, and that would probably be accurate --- but who the hell knows what McCain will do.

A lot of people are weighing McCain's choice in the context of how it will effect the election. Which running mate would do the most for McCain's electoral chances, who would bring the most to the table in terms of votes (both general and electoral), and whatnot.

I don't play those games. I don't like thinking in those terms. Rather, I prefer to think of which person could do the best in the office, not who would best help get there.

And I think that, of all the people I've heard tossed around as prospective veeps, Romney would do the best job.

Constitutionally, the duties of the vice-president are remarkably skimpy. The best description I've heard are "to preside over the Senate and to inquire daily as to the health of the president."

I don't like to make predictions, but I have a strong hunch that the Democrats will retain control of the Senate in November. That means that a McCain administration will have to deal with a Democratic leadership in the Senate. Well, during Mitt Romney's term as governor of Massachusetts, he had to deal with an overwhelming Democratic majority in the legislature. Hell, during the second half, he didn't even have enough Republicans to sustain his vetoes. He still managed to get some things done. I don't agree with all of those things, but the fact remains indisputable: even when tremendously outnumbered, Romney still managed to wring concessions and compromises out of the Democratic legislature and get some of his issues passed.

And Romney is a good communicator. He's more than capable of making the perquisite daily inquiry about McCain's health.

Then there's the unofficial duties of the vice president. These boil down to whatever the president is willing to entrust to his running mate. That is where past veeps have left their mark.

Romney, I believe, is a superb complement to McCain. McCain's strength is in foreign policy and military matters, two areas where Romney is lacking. On the other hand, Romney has considerable executive experience and has a lengthy history of success in the private sector, giving him considerable credibility and expertise on economic matters.

Historically, the vice presidency has been closely associated with the presidency. Dick Cheney is the first vice president in a very long time who is not a former or future presidential candidate. Al Gore ran for the presidency, as did Dan Quayle, George H. W. Bush, Walter Mondale, Gerald Ford, Hubert Humphrey, Nelson Rockefeller, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon. Indeed, the only vice president in the last 50-odd years who didn't seek the top job was Spiro Agnew.

In that context, McCain's tapping Romney would be entirely in keeping with historical tradition. And should Romney choose to seek to succeed McCain, he'd be in good company -- the first President Bush did just that, and presidents Ford, Johnson, Nixon, and Truman also made the step up -- by admittedly less conventional and pre-planned means.

Plus, there's the sheer entertainment value of the Romney choice. Romney, as has been noted numerous times, is a practicing Mormon. That means he's deprived of most of the usual tools of the trade for one of the vice president's most important duties -- schmoozing people. He can't have folks over for a drink. He can't even invite them over for coffee. He can't sit around and cuss at the TV, or -- in the spirit of our current vice president, cuss out Senators to their faces. He'll have to use whole new methods of socializing, and that could be tremendously fun to watch.

Overall, of all the names being batted around, I think Romney would be the best vice-president for McCain. I don't mean to denigrate any of the other names being discussed, but most of them are being pushed in the context of how well they could help McCain win the election. As I said above, I don't like to think along those lines. Instead of debating who could best GET the job, I'd rather consider who could best DO that job.

And in that context, I think Romney's the best around.


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Comments (22)

I fail to understand why ev... (Below threshold)
Joseph:

I fail to understand why everyone keeps touting Romney as some kind of Economic wizard. Have any of you actually looked at Massachusetts economy during Romney's tenure? Excluding Louisiana because of Hurricane Katrina, Massachusetts finished in the bottom 2 in almost every category. Job growth was lowest in the nation. Economic growth in the bottom 2. Wages fell by 3% during that time. Approximately 220,000 more people left the state than moved there during his tenure.

So if Romney was an Economic wizard in the private sector, he evidently forgot everything he knew when he was elected Governor of Massachusetts.

Good analysis and I second ... (Below threshold)

Good analysis and I second the nomination.

Joseph,May I sugge... (Below threshold)
Isaac:

Joseph,

May I suggest you compare employment in MA before and after Romney rather than throwing numbers around out of context. What was the net change in job growth? It was turned around from -6.5% to +0.5%. The 2002 Olympics started 200 Million in the hole. Romney flipped that around to a 300 Million profit. A net change of 1/2 billion. You should look at the whole story, not the just the end numbers.

Sarah Palin has always been... (Below threshold)

Sarah Palin has always been my first choice for VP. She can do all the things Romney can plus some of those he can't.

If McCain were all but assu... (Below threshold)

If McCain were all but assured of victory, so much so that he could win with the 2008 version of Quayle as a running mate, then sure, go ahead and pick one on the basis of how they'd perform in office.

But since that is certainly not the case, the ONLY criteria McCain should be using is the extent to which someone helps him win. Doing otherwise is about as stupid as Obama having a single point lead in the polls and yet devoting resources to planning his transition.

And yes you might end up with someone who helps McCain win but turns out to be a total disaster (think Cheney), but that is the risk McCain has to take in order to get elected.

Very interesting endorsemen... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Very interesting endorsement seeing that he is the least consistent politician in the entire 2008 race. (Too many issues to even name)

In 2004, your #1 reason for not voting for Kerry was "consistency."

You're not very consistent with consistency.

I did. Here are just a coup... (Below threshold)
Joseph:
Pawlenty.Wait and ... (Below threshold)
Jamie:

Pawlenty.

Wait and see...

Romney would be the proverbial shot to the foot for McCain; I like the guy, but he proved a lack of viability in a national election during the primaries.

Pawlenty brings many of the same good points of Romney without nearly as much baggage; add to the mix his influence in the Midwest, and the fact that much of the nation hasn't already said "no" to him once. He's McCain's best bet.

I think that is the only re... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I think that is the only really move McCain has. Jindal is not well known. Gulliani blew all he had on the race. Huchabee will go off the reservation too much. Condi is not interiested. Let's face it. This is a race on race. The left is using the race card already, which will turn off most moderates to vote for McCain. Romney will help mediate that move. ww

The Club for Growth did hol... (Below threshold)
Joseph:

The Club for Growth did hold out some hope for fiscal conservatives: Mitt's amazing malleability. "His enthusiastic embrace of the Bush tax cuts on the campaign trail offers hope that Gov. Romney's previous ambivalence on tax policy is more a function of Massachusetts politics than his core beliefs."

Does that mean that when it's politically expedient, Mitt will chuck his core beliefs?

Joseph, I think one could s... (Below threshold)
hyperbolist:

Joseph, I think one could say that about any politician except maybe Kucinich. He ruined Cincinatti rather than cave in to special interests.

And hey, it worked for him! He's well paid and has a hot wife. Good for L'il Dennis!

Joseph,The ranking... (Below threshold)

Joseph,

The ranking of MA is irrelevant. When measuring the success of politician it's relative to where things started and the momentum and direction of things. You could have a doctor and patient scenario and have a doctor that pulled someone from the brink of death and compare that to a doctor who marginally helped a healthy someone obtain a slightly better heart rate. Who's the better doctor?

Hyperbolist,Kucini... (Below threshold)
OhioVoter:

Hyperbolist,

Kucinich was Cleveland's mayor.

Jerry Springer was Cincinnati's mayor.

(Note about Springer - as a councilman, he was caught in a prostitution sting because he paid by check - twice.)

To topic:

I am leaning to Pawlenty myself (although there are a couple of lesser know women that have caught some of my interest as well).

Romney's worst problem for McCain is that anti-Mormon bigotry is considered acceptable among some pretty mainstream people both on the right and the left. The number of myths about Mormons that were reported as fact was startling during his campaign and there is no reason to believe it will go away just because he is the VP candidate instead of the presidential candidate.

(BTW, I am not saying that anti-Mormon bigotry was Romney's only problem, but I will see I have not seen such prejudice on the issue in over 20 years as I saw during his campaign. It exists.)

As it stands, McCain and Romney have forged a working relationship despite - as many have said - a mutual dislike for one another. Romney potentially could be available for a number of cabinet positions and not put McCain's chance to be elected at risk.

I don't know why this is so... (Below threshold)
Alan Orfi:

I don't know why this is so hard to understand... Romney LOST. People like him less than McCain.

It is intersting that Obama... (Below threshold)
Al Stone:

It is intersting that Obama changes his position on some issue almost daily and yet some people ignore that fact and biased saying Romney changed the most. Just list the changed positions of the two and you will see Obama changes about three times more often--he is indeed a candidate of change. With problems with high gas prices and our economy if ever in the history of America we need a candidate who knows economics and economic principles it is now. Obama has had NO training, education or experience in money matters and has not even managed his own affairs very well. Romeny on the other hand is far better educated and from top universities and has had success in business and with the Winter Olympics. Just look at the possible VP candidates and NONE have the credentials Romney has! Are some people so blinded by hate or prejudice they can't see that fact?

Unfortunately, Thompson's n... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

Unfortunately, Thompson's not being vetted at this time so I can't even hope he'll be the guy inquiring as to the health of the president.

I'm not all that keen on Romney though. His entire time as Governor was spent swimming in hostile waters. He's so accustomed to compromise I'm not sure if any of it was just for the sake of compromise. I have no way of knowing which of their failed policies he was really against. His pride at owning Massachusetts' health care program bothers me. His support of over-reaching gun control bothered me and his back-and-forth on gay marriage bothered me. I personally don't have a problem with gay marriage, but I'm unsure about Romney. I know what he says, but ...

I have to say I'm not that concerned about who McCain selects. He could pick Howdy Doody and I still wouldn't vote Obama. But if the word "gravitas" comes up this cycle, I think I'll scream.

But in his defense, Joseph, why aren't you holding Massachusetts' vast majority of Democrats responsible for any of that state's woes? Even one of the op-eds you cited ended with this:

Real world experience has shown that a governor is limited in his power to influence the course of economic development in a state. A full-time governor who is deeply committed to the economic well-being of a state's workers can, however, make some difference.

And I think he did make a difference. There were raises in taxes and fees enacted just before he won office. These were the usual Democrat SOP for solving a problem like the huge deficit Mass faced, but during his term they cut spending - lots of spending.

Alan, ask why people... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

Alan, ask why people "like him less". I think why they like him less is more important to know than just pointing it out. People liked Huckabee less too. Wasn't he your candidate at one point? Your lack of warm fuzzy feelings for Romney (and Giuliani) has been quite obvious in the past.

So Alan (#14) ... you're su... (Below threshold)
Bob:

So Alan (#14) ... you're suggesting that McCain run as his own VP? What the ... ???

Only a few bloggers, and pe... (Below threshold)
Ben:

Only a few bloggers, and people in Hugh Hewitt's office would get excited about a Romney vp. Seriously why waste the time. Romney is someone who I do not trust. I do not want the republican party leadership to be controled by non-conservatives for the next 4-16 years. It would doom the conservative movement. That is the risk of Romney. His only principles are what ever get him elected. It is bad enough we have McCain, who moonlights as a democrat, as our nominee. To compound that problem by putting someone who makes slick willy look honest as his running mate, is a disaster. I do not want to see the socialist Obama as our president, but I'll sit this one out, or throw my vote away on Barr, in hopes of a 1994 reawakenning in 2010, if Romney is vp. It is better to lose a battle and save the conservative movement than to throw it all away on putting its control in those who are not conservative at all.

I could not agree more Ben.... (Below threshold)
Joseph:

I could not agree more Ben. You hit the nail on the head.

As for bigotry, how do you explain Mormons voting 98% for Romney? Evangelicals pretty much split the vote 3 ways between Romney, McCain, and Huckabee. So tell me, who are the bigots?

True enough, Romney was not alone in making Massachusetts mediocre to poor. But he was at the head of the table. He raised fees by $501 million his first year in office. Not over a 4 year period but his FIRST year. He quadrupled gun registration from $25 to $100. The blind had to pay an additional $25 to be certified blind over what they paid before. Same type of fee hikes applied to retardation as well. Fees were flying around everywhere, hence the nickname "Fee Fee".

Sure he cut spending, he cut $277 million from the state's local education aid budget. He also cut another $130 million from higher education which pushed added cost down to the local towns and counties which in turn resulted in what? You guessed it, higher taxes but at least it wasn't Romney's doing, now was it?

Let's ask the people who know these leaders the best. Oops, already did that during the Primaries. What were the results? Romney received 51% of the vote in Mass. McCain received 41% of the vote in Arizona. Huckabee beat them both by getting 60% of the vote in Arkansas. That should tell us something.

McCAIN & ROMNEY: This is th... (Below threshold)
Citizen American:

McCAIN & ROMNEY: This is the team - and the only one on either side of the aisle -with the expertise and experience to hit on all cylinders: National Security, Economy, Health Care, Governance, and Family Values. Together, they bring it all to the table. Both are fully vetted, Romney's age is just right -not too young or too old to match McCain, he is seriously smart -- the only candidate recognized with global economy credentials in the entire race, and he is a believable candidate for the position a heartbeat away from the Presidency. They are alike, yet different; they both convey competence and leadership; and, yes, Romney helps a McCain presidency "look" better.

Finally, Romney delivers Michigan and strengthens McCain in other key western states. As for the anti-Mormon Evangelicals who still refuse to believe Mormons are Christians, surveys showed that by the end of the primary season, Romney was carrying as many Evangelical votes as Huckabee. There's unquestionably a narrow strata of anti-Mormon Evangelicals but they don't want McCain either, surely won't vote for Obama, and will likely stay home. The majority of Evangelicals are driven by critical core values that will send them to the polls, if only to ensure that the next two Supreme Court Justices are not rabid pro-abortionists. Evangelicals understand that there's a lot at stake that will matter long after the next President or Vice President have come and gone.

Further, the hits Romney took from the liberal media while a primary candidate would now be emerging in a very different context and have much less punch. How can, say, a Chris Matthews, criticize Romney for "flip-flopping" after Matthew's guy, Obama, continues to flip by the day? Besides, Newsweek has now determined - once Obama started doing it - that flip-flopping is good. (see recent issue)

And given Obama's religious baggage (just why did he stay in that church for 20 years?), how do the Dems go after Romney on religion? (Interesting factoid: both Romney and Obama have polygamist ancestors!) In fact, McCain could use the occasion of selecting Romney as his running mate to take an aggressive and public stand against religious bigotry of any kind.

And then there's the economy: Romney's got bona fides. You can't refute his experience nor his success in the global economy. Obama has none. Zero. And Clinton on the ticket won't help. Neither, as Romney has said, has ever run a thing much less a country. At least McCain brings to the White House his major management experience in the military. As the Obama campaign is now learning, going after McCain on his military experience only begs the question (as Schieffer asked on Face the Nation): Well, what has Obama done? Going after Romney on his economic experience will beg a similar question: What has Obama ever done to merit voters' confidence in his grasp of global economic issues?

America is starting to feel desperate for leaders who can rebuild this nation's economic stability; a President who made his money writing books just doesn't instill confidence in me. I want the guy who turned Office Depot into a global giant and managed to relight the torch of a dying Olympics.

As for bigotry, ho... (Below threshold)
OhioVoter:
As for bigotry, how do you explain Mormons voting 98% for Romney?

Will since over 50% of Mormons do not have the ability to vote in a US election, my guess is that we need to look at the source of your statistic to see if it is accurate. Which we can't. Because you didn't provide any source for your statistic.

Given that Romney removed himself from the race prior to contests in various states (including Ohio), the actual percentage of Mormons given a chance to vote for him is even smaller.

Did you really "mean" to say that 98% of the Mormons in Utah voted for him? In case you missed it, Romney ran the Salt Lake City Olypics and did it well. The residents of Utah (who are probably less Mormons than you assume) have had a chance to SEE Romney run something that succeeded well. To answer your original question - if your statistic is true, maybe they voted for him because they know he can deliver.

Evangelicals pretty much split the vote 3 ways between Romney, McCain, and Huckabee. So tell me, who are the bigots?

Since I never mentioned Evangelicals, I would say your comment is irrelevant to my premise.




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