Has Romney Made His Veep Selection Already?

There are some indications that Mitt Romney may be ready to announce his running mate selection as early as this week.

It appears that The New York Times buried the lede in an article that appears this morning about the somewhat surprising rise of Tim Pawlenty to the top of the Vice-Presidential running mate short list:

 After a short-lived presidential bid of his own last year, Mr. Pawlenty is again being considered for the Republican ticket. His fate is in the hands of Mr. Romney, a rival-turned-friend, who is on the cusp of announcing his vice-presidential selection. Mr. Romney has reached a decision, his friends believe, and he may disclose it as soon as this week.

Traditionally, of course, these announcements are usually only made a week or two before the party convention. That’s what Barack Obama when he announced his selection of Joe Biden in 2008, and John McCain did the same thing with his announcement of Sarah Palin as his running mate on August 29, 2008. This year, of course, the conventions are once again late in the summer, with the Republican Convention starting in Tampa on August 27th. That would mean that the announcement would normally come sometime in mid-August. There is some advantage to this. First of all, it limits the amount of time that the potential nominee is exposed to press scrutiny. George H.W. Bush, for example, didn’t announce his selection of Dan Quayle as his running mate until the Republican National Convention was already underway in New Orleans. Eight years earlier, Ronald Reagan went into the convention still unsure about who his running mate would be and nearly selected former President Gerald Ford until Ford had placed conditions on his joining the ticket that would have nearly made him a co-President. More recently, candidates have made their decision before the convention but have still waited until shortly before it opened to make the announcement in part to increase press interest in the what has basically become a very pro forma event, as well as to keep delegates and party members interested.

Despite that history, there has been speculation for weeks now that the Romney campaign was considering an extraordinarily early announcement of their running mate choice. The main reason usually cited is that an early running mate would essentially allow the campaign to send both men, and it seems almost 100% certain that Romney’s selection will be a male, out on the campaign trail and to fundraising events for the ensuing six weeks until the convention, thus doubling their ability to reach out across the country.  As we see during the General Election campaign, there are advantages to being able to be in two different parts of the country at the same time. Additionally, making the choice now would allow the campaign to end the pre-Olympics period on a high note of sorts given that there’s likely to be something of a political news drought during the last two weeks of July.

There are disadvantages to an early announcement as well, of course. As I noted above, the longer the VP nominee is out there the longer the press, pundits, and bloggers will be able to pick the candidate apart. If McCain had named Palin six weeks before the convention, for example, it’s likely that she would’ve been torn apart before the summer of 2008 was over. Since the Romney campaign seems to be being much more careful about their vetting process, it seems unlikely that they’d repeat the Palin error, of course, but they would be taking a risk in putting their selection out their six weeks in advance and they would need to be sure that their record can withstand all the scrutiny will get. The other disadvantage, especially of announcing this week, is that it would be perceived as an effort to change the subject from Bain and tax returns. If that’s the reason they would come out with the announcement early, though, I think they’ll be making a mistake. Bain and the tar returns aren’t going to go away until they answer those questions far more clearly than they have to do and if they announce a running mate without dealing with them then that will just mean there will be one more person involved in the Romney campaign who will be asked questions about Bain and tax returns.

As for who the running mate might be, whether the announcement comes soon or in August, it appears that the pool has narrowed down to a few select people. Rob Portman and Pawlenty seem to be at the top of the list, with names like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, South Dakota Senator John Thune, and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte being mentioned as second tier candidate. Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan still seems like possibilities, but only very remote ones, while names like Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who I had thought would be the choice Romeny would make earlier this year, completely off the list. (McDonnell was recently named head of the RNC Platform Committee, a position that suggests its highly unlikely that he is being considered for Vice-President.) Also off the list, I would think, are people like Chris Christie. Given everything we’ve seen from the Romney campaign, it seems likely that they’ll go with the “safe” choice, which means someone like Portman or Pawlenty. Not the most exciting choice ever, but perhaps that’s not what Romney needs this year.

So, stay tuned because we could have some big news out of Boston this week.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. KariQ says:

    Anything to change the subject.

  2. Jay Dubbs says:

    I wonder if the Veep candidates had to submit more than just two years of tax returns for the vetting?

  3. @Jay Dubbs:

    Romney gave McCain’s vetting team 23 years of tax returns

  4. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Romney gave McCain’s vetting team 23 years of tax returns

    And then McCain picked Palin…
    Those tax returns are toxic.

  5. @PJ:

    As I said before, I don’t think the tax returns had much to do with the reasons McCain didn’t pick Romney. Reading through campaign postmortems such as Game Change, it’s clear that by July 2008, the McCain camp believed that they needed to make a pick that would be a “game changer.” Romney simply wasn’t that guy. Heck, two weeks before he named Palin, McCain was still apparently fixated on the idea of picked Joe Lieberman as his running mate, something that would have been a disaster at the Minneapolis Convention. Add to this the fact that McCain and Romney never got along on the campaign trail and I think it’s rather obvious that Romney never really had a shot at being the running mate regardless of what the tax returns say.

  6. @PJ:

    As Doug says, McCain wanted Lieberman, and was pulled far right by a base who wanted McCain to recast himself. Romney would have been another moderate choice for the ticket, and on that basis unacceptable. Palin let all the Joe the plumbers believe …

  7. It might be interesting to know how the Romney team feel about the “game change” gamble this morning. A month or two ago they were probably thinking a solid dependable type would round out a serious ticket. Now … well we know why the Rice rumor caught on last week in particular.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    Romney desperately needs to change the subject(s)…both from Bain and his Tax Returns.
    Announcing a VP candidate may be all he has. But it’s not good when you are having your game dictated to you by the opposition.
    Slick Willard is weak tea. As he heads to the convention in a hot steamy August in Tampa he is now going to have to run away from both his Governorship and his time at Bain. What does he have left? Maybe he can retro-actively retire again?
    Pawlenty isn’t going to help at all…he can’t even deliver Minnesota…where his short-sited policies left the state mired in one of the biggest budget short-falls in the country.
    If Pawlenty gets rolled out early and the Obama campaign has some time to do to him what they have done to Mr. Etch-a-Sketch…it’s over before it began.
    And if it’s not Pawlenty…Portman isn’t going to fare any better. I’d love to see what the Obama campaign does to Bush’s Budget Director.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    I hope he retroactively selects Tim Pawlenty.

    And why not? Michele Bachmann has in the past characterized her fellow Minnesotan as a socialist. That would make for good opposition research and great sound bites.

  10. @al-Ameda:

    I hope he retroactively selects Tim Pawlenty.

    That’s true, he doesn’t actually have to complete the paperwork until 2014 …

  11. DRS says:

    Pick Ann. She’s doing a damn fine job, is better off-the-cuff than he is, would be the first VP with a disability (which she’s managing nicely) and can ride a horse to boot. My money is on Ann.

  12. sam says:

    “Given everything we’ve seen from the Romney campaign, it seems likely that they’ll go with the “safe” choice, which means someone like Portman or Pawlenty. Not the most exciting choice ever, but perhaps that’s not what Romney needs this year”

    The pick would have to be someone who wouldn’t overshadow Mr. Romney on the charisma thing. Back in the day the kids had a word for the achingly boring — ‘beige’. The tapee would have to be über-beige.

  13. @al-Ameda and @john personna: So much win.

  14. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Obviously anything the Gray Lady says must be taken with a gigantic grain of salt, but just for the hell of it let’s go ahead and assume arguendo that that report is within the penumbra of being accurate.

    If the choice is between Tim Pawlenty (hasn’t won an election since ’06; home state of MN not remotely in play) and Rob Portman (won 2.2 million votes in ’10; home state of OH a crucial battleground), and if Team Romney chooses the former, then they’ve fallen below incompetent and into the realm of actual catatonia.

  15. jukeboxgrad says:

    I want him to pick Trump.

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @john personna: McCain apparently wanted Lieberman. I expect the campaign staff lobbied hard against. A big issue with McCain was age. I can’t believe they would have selected a veep, who while actually a couple of years younger, looks even older than McCain.

  17. anjin-san says:

    Romney gave McCain’s vetting team 23 years of tax returns

    Which is a lot more than he has given the people he is asking to vote for him.

  18. anjin-san says:

    @ john personna

    if Romeny goes retro on the VP selection, he should think big. How about Abraham Lincoln?

  19. @anjin-san:

    That’s not far enough outside the box … I think he should name Barack Obama!

  20. (All your base are belong to us.)

  21. Drew says:

    Jindal is the winning choice, perhaps Rubio.

    I’ll leave the mind reading to the rest of you.

  22. DRS says:

    Aaaaand that didn’t take long! According to the front page of Slate, the Romney campaign denies that he’s picked a VP or that he will name a VP shortly.

  23. @Drew:

    It would be good for Jindal, especially to groom his gravitas for future election cycles.

  24. stonetools says:

    I’m going to agree with the Tsar (won’t happen too often, I’m sure) and bet on Portman.

    As for Jindal, I guess it would be nice to a VP who was also an exorcist. Perhaps he’s a secret vampire slayer as well, a la Lincoln?

  25. Liberty60 says:

    According to the fever swamps of rightwing blogs, Herman Cain is the base favorite.

    Oddly enough, the liberals feel equally enthusiastic.