Mitt Romney has been all but confirmed as the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, but one big question remains: Whom will the former Massachusetts governor select as his running mate? I take a look at some of Mitt’s most likely options.
Who he is: Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, is the junior U.S. senator from Florida. His term began in January 2011 and he formerly served as the Speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives.
Sometimes called “The Crown Prince" of the Tea Party, Sen. Rubio’s platform is quite far right. He was one of several co-sponsors of the bill brought into consideration by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) that calls for the repeal of Obamacare and advocates free-market ideas and state handling of American healthcare.
Rubio also advocates freezing non-defense spending at 2008 levels, reducing the size of the “federal bureaucracy," enacting vast reforms of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare - which he claims are “bankrupting the country” - and slashing the corporate tax rate, according to his website.
However, Sen. Rubio perhaps unsurprisingly takes a more open-minded approach to immigration than some of his Republican cohorts. He supports of a Republican version of the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education of Alien Minors) Act, which allows illegal immigrants with children to stay in the United States. A number of prominent conservatives do not support even the conservative DREAM Act favored by Rubio, much less the original Democrat version.
Why he may get picked: While he may not be the resounding favorite, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, his appeal may be broader demographically than other potential running mates, simply based on Sen. Rubio’s race and ethnicity. Republicans do not generally draw a large amount of Hispanic votes, but with Sen. Rubio on the ticket, the duo can appeal to a variety of conservatives with varied backgrounds, even those who are more liberal on immigration issues.
Why he may not get picked: Sen. Rubio’s stance on immigration is a key aspect of his political ideology, but Romney so far has kept relatively quiet on whether he agrees with Rubio's position. In December 2011, Romney said that he would veto the DREAM Act while he was campaigning in Iowa, but so far he has been noncommittal on Rubio's version. If Romney comes out against the Republican version of the DREAM Act - which liberals still find unacceptable - the difference in opinon could pose challenges for a Romney-Rubio ticket.
Prediction: At the end of the day, politics is a game, and the amount of potential voters Rubio can appeal would be too important of an asset for Romney to pass up. I think he is the favorite to be chosen as Romney’s running mate.
Who he is: Chris Christie has been serving as governor of New Jersey since 2010 and has been cited as a rising star within the GOP, forcing Gov. Christie to deny speculation that he would run for President in 2012.
Economically, Gov. Christie has laid out plans to cut the New Jersey budget by $1 billion after declaring the state was in “a state of fiscal emergency” in 2010. He has also advocated legislation that hinders union collective bargaining rights and called the leaders of the New Jersey Education Association, the union that New Jersey teachers belong to, as “a group of political thugs” last April.
Socially, while Christie is pro-life, his stance on other social issues is not overwhelmingly conservative. He supports the notion of appropriately distributed medical marijuana, is in favor of same sex civil unions, even though he vetoed a bill that would have legalized same sex marriages in New Jersey this February. He also favors relaxing government restrictions on and increasing some governmental financial support of alternative energy production.
Why he may get picked: Gov. Christie’s enormous popularity in his home state and the country is hard to overlook, as the aforementioned Quinnipiac poll ranked him as the most desirable Vice Presidential candidate.
Why he may not get picked: While Gov. Christie’s appeal is hard to overlook for Romney, so are the fundamental differences between their opinions on certain hot-button issues.
Romney and Gov. Christie are both pro-life, but differ in what they see as acceptable legal recognition of same-sex couples, as Romney is opposed to both same-sex marriages and civil unions. (Opponents have accused Mitt of flip-flopping on the issue.) Romney is also opposed in principal to medical marijuana and isn’t keen on the idea of government spending on alternative energy. Gov. Christie also does little reach out to potential minority voters, as Rubio does with Hispanics.
Prediction: Gov. Christie is a smart pick for Romney and could lock-up New Jersey’s 14 electoral votes, which have gone to Democratic candidates since 1992. If Sen. Rubio isn’t selected, it will almost certainly be Gov. Christie - if he wants in.
Who he is: Rep. Paul Ryan has been representing Wisconsin’s 1st district, which covers the extreme southeastern corner of the state including Racine, Kenosha and his hometown of Janesville, since 1999 and has focused his political career on drastically shrinking government spending and entitlement programs.
As House Budget Committee Chairman, Rep. Ryan spearheaded the Republican Party’s 2012 budget proposal entitled The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise, which calls for the replacement of Medicare with a voucher-based system in 2022, the repealing of Obamacare and the freezing all governmental discretionary spending.
When it comes to immigration, Rep. Ryan sees the Dream Act as “[an attempt] to treat a symptom - rather than the root cause - of our current problem,” according to his website, though he sympathizes with what the bill aims to accomplish. He also advocates implementing seasonal and temporary visas.
On abortion, Rep. Ryan has a track record of voting against providing financial support for abortion and family planning clinics and voting for measures that limited partial-birth abortions in situations that aren’t life threatening to the mother and limiting stem cell research.
Why he may get picked: As an unabashed conservative and rising star in the Republican Party, picking Rep. Ryan would help quash Republican concerns over Romney’s perceived lack of “true conservatism.”
Why he may not get picked: Rep. Ryan has significant pull within the House of Representatives and Romney may feel he is more valuable to him in the legislature.
Prediction: Rep. Ryan is an attractive candidate, but I think Romney will realize his best interest is to keep the representative where he’s most influential and useful: in the House. That said, if Sen. Rubio and Gov. Christie are not chosen or decline Romney’s offer, Rep. Ryan could very well become Romney’s running mate.