John McCain has five weeks to choose his Vice Presidential running mate. Typically the most a presidential candidate can hope for is a partner who does him no harm. That criteria having been met, the choice is only important if the race is close; landslides aren’t caused or prevented by vice presidential candidates.
So the question for John McCain is who, if anyone can significantly influence Americans to vote Republican in November. The answer is Mitt Romney — and for many more reasons than that he can deliver Michigan’s 17 electoral votes to the Republican column for the first time since 1988.
Reason Number One: Electoral Votes. According to Rothenberg Political Report, the key targeted states in this election are Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, Colorado and Virginia. Recent polls show that with Governor Romney on the ticket McCain wins Michigan; without him he loses. That alone should put Romney on the ticket — no other potential running mate can offer anything close to this. But Romney also brings enormous strength to McCain’s efforts in Nevada and Colorado. He won Nevada with 51% of the vote and Colorado with 59% and the support for him in both these states remains extraordinarily high.
Reason Number Two: It’s the Economy, Stupid! McCain’s strength is national security, a serious concern for most all Americans. But it is trumped by the economy, and you don’t have to read the polls to know this is an Achilles heal of the Grand Old Party. The high gas prices and unprecedented homes foreclosures occurred on a Republican watch and the voters aren’t happy. To make the situation even worse last December McCain told reporters: “The issue of economics is something that I’ve really never understood as well as I should.”
But the economy is Governor Romney’s strength. He speaks with impressive authority on the topic — the kind that comes with years of experience in the private section. At a time when so many Americans are facing so much uncertainty about their financial future Governor Romney exudes the calm confidence we look for in a leader. He would lend the ticket the kind of solid economic credibility it desperately needs.
By making Romney his running mate McCain creates a solid ticket on both national security and the economy. Obama knows less about the economy than McCain and no one he adds to his ticket is going to know more than Romney. A McCain-Romney ticket offers a clear alternative on all counts to the “rhetoric without substance” campaign being offered by the Democrats. It doesn’t eliminate the vulnerability the ticket has on the economy but it gives them a powerful and effective weapon with which to make its case for strong effective leadership in these troubled times.
Reason Number Three: Ready to be President. When Sean Hannity asked McCain last week what he was looking for in a vice president McCain said one characteristic, “…of course, is someone who can take your place immediately. That’s maybe viewed by some as even more important in my case.” McCain is right. These are serious times for this nation. Because of his advanced age he needs to choose a running mate Americans know is ready to be president. No one questions Mitt Romney’s readiness and the age issue is dissipated by a McCain-Romney ticket.
Reason Number Four: Conservatives. It is in John McCain’s interest to have his party’s base energized, enthused, excited. If that doesn’t work he at least needs them to care. John McCain has failed to excite anyone, other than his mother, about this campaign. Conservatives, in particular, are acting more like spectators than players — they simply don’t care if he wins or loses.
Mitt Romney, however, is an entirely different story. He built an impressively loyal following during the primaries but no where near as impressive as the one he has built since he withdrew from the race. Every where I go, from Alaska to Georgia, Republicans ask me, “Do you think McCain will take Romney?” After a pause they invariably add, “He is my candidate.” Mitt Romney touched a chord with conservatives when he graciously and movingly told the party activists at CPAC last March that it was time to clear the field for John McCain.
While conservatives may not ever be excited about John McCain they would find something to be for in a McCain-Romney ticket. Something to be excited about — we are desperate for it, John! And besides no other potential running mate offers anything close to this.