First, Obama wrapped up the nomination for the Democratic ticket last night. This was not unexpected of course, but it is a nice formality to have out of the way.
On to the GOP….
It’s hard to overstate the importance of these wins for Romney last night. They are critical for a number of reasons:
- They increase Romney’s already overwhelming advantage over Santorum. The race now stands at 654 to 270 in favor of Romney. Gingrich and Paul are finally and completely non-factors. Why both don’t drop is beyond me.
- With less than half the delegates still on the board, Santorum is not quite mathematically eliminated, but the math is definitely opposed to him winning. He may still be pushing for a Convention floor win if he can hold off Romney, but this is both fool-hardy and stupid. At this point, Santorum should do as Romney did in 2008–bow out gracefully as soon as it became apparent he wasn’t going to win and work for next time (2016 or 2020). Instead Santorum pushing forward makes him look whiny, wimpy, and like a poor loser. I do not believe the establishment will forget this very negative side of Santorum come next time.
- Looking at the exit polls, especially in Wisconsin, it is quite apparent that not only was that a win for Romney, but it was very clearly a lose for Santorum. Santorum’s traditional strengths and areas where he typically pulls the vote turned against him in droves. In fact, one critical exit poll showed that most Wisconsin voters trusted Romney more on healthcare than Santorum. The party is uniting behind Romney, and Santorum just missed the memo.
My honest hope now is that Santorum pulls the plug in the next few days. He keeps looking forward to May, but last month it was looking forward to April, and the month before that it was looking forward to March. He’s had a good run, but even his good wins were not near enough to making even a remote dent in Romney’s powerhouse campaign. Santorum may have a few more wins in him, but at what cost?
No, it’s time for this nomination cycle to close up shop. Everyone outside of the Santorum and Gingrich camps (including the Dems!) recognize that this is over. Staying in any longer is nothing more than an embarrassment to them at this point.
Appropriately, the race will turn towards looking at VEEP candidates. CNN and other sites have already put out tentative lists of candidates, and I have my own list and thoughts. Here’s a sampling in no particular order:
- Tim Pawlenty–An attractive option who was actually second choice behind Palin in 2008. I wouldn’t mind a Pawlenty pick, but he’s actively removed himself from consideration (not necessarily a sign that he wouldn’t accept by the way; see Biden 2008). There are more attractive picks, but if he was tapped, I wouldn’t cry.
- Chris Christie–I really like Christie. He’s blunt, he’s fun, and he’s got a bit of bull dog in him; all attractive qualities for a VP. In some ways, he mirrors Biden in that Biden is often used in ways to say and do things that Obama can’t. Christie would also attract the Tea Party vote.
On the negative side, I don’t know that Christie attracts the important independent vote (although he does attract my independent vote). He’s also a little too blunt sometimes (like Biden).
- Marco Rubio–I have to admit that this is easily the best pick in my opinion. He’s smart, he attracts both the Hispanic and Tea Party vote, and he’s a strong and popular presence in a big swing state (Florida).
An interesting aside…. Rubio’s family was once LDS. They left the church in his youth, but technically speaking, having Rubio on the ticket would create the first all Mormon ticket.
- Nikki Haley–A strong voice who has struggled a bit in her home state. I know many people would like this pick, but I see this as Sarah Palin II without some of the drama.
- Suzanne Martinez–I first heard her name floated by CNN, and I admit that I like the idea. She’s from New Mexico, Hispanic, and talented. Martinez would be a much stronger pick than Haley in my opinion.
- Paul Ryan–Another strong pick who would turn Romney’s already powerful Economic/Budget platform into arguably the strongest Economic/Budget platform ever offered to the nation. For a budget-aware, deficit-conscious America, Ryan is attractive.
There are many others out there, of course, but this, for me, is the most interesting facet of the race as it currently stands.
What would I like to see?
- A complimentary figure to Romney. Romney does have an approachability issue. I don’t know if it is real or not, but it is perceived. That is real enough. Someone who blunted that issue would be valuable.
- A stronger foreign policy presence. This is arguably the weakest issue across the board for the entire election in my opinion. Obama will have basically four years of experience dealing with foreign issues under his belt, but I cannot give him credit for it. If anyone gets credit, it would be Clinton. She is quite possibly the most accomplished person in Washington today when it comes to foreign policy issues, and she is an Ace in Obama’s hand. (I never thought I’d say that….)
- A person that can pull the country together. I’m tired of the partisan politics. I’m tired of “moderate” being a bad word. Between Romney and Obama, I think Romney is the better pick for pulling the country together, though that doesn’t mean he would. Just that he is better than Obama. I’d like to see a VP who could truly straddle the divide. Someone who looks beyond party issues and focuses on national issues.
I look at the VP role as the moderating role. In our original format, the runner up in the national election took that role, and I recognize that this doesn’t really work. However, what a wonderful education and training experience for the VP who, often enough, goes on to run for President themselves and often takes that role. What I want in a VP is someone who is capable to be president themselves and someone who can carry a national vision forward when their time has come.
Biden is not that kind of person. Palin is not that kind of person. Looking back across history, there’ve been plenty of VPs that aren’t those kinds of people. I hope that Romney picks that kind of person.