With the Republican National Convention drawing ever closer, the speculation about who Mitt Romney will pick as his running mate has kicked into a higher gear. And predictably, the pundit class has split into factions: those who want a bold, big-ideas pick, those who favor a safe pick who won't knock the campaign off message, those who want a feisty reformer, and those who want a pick who can help Romney win an important swing state or demographic group.
Naturally, Romney hopes to find someone who checks all the boxes. But the only clue he's given recently is that, as he told NBC's Chuck Todd, he wants someone who has “a vision for the country, that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country.” That's in keeping with Romney's repeated admonitions on the campaign trail that this is an exceptionally important election, one that will shape America's future.
Of course, every presidential election shapes America's future. But both candidates have been making the case that the differences between them are profound and that the country has reached the point at which it has to make some crucial choices about the size of government, its role in people's lives and who will pay for it.
Anyway, the "bold" category would include House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), the architect of the House GOP's stance on entitlement reform, and a "tea party" favorite along the lines of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The "safe" category includes Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The ne plus ultra in the "feisty" column is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, although I'd throw Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in there sheerly for his reformer cred. And the "swing state/demographic" picks include Portman, Rubio, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).
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