Michael Medved (via RCP) has a good column on the prospects of the various VP candidates for Republican nominee John McCain. While I've been assidiously avoiding political subjects lately due to a renewed sense of frustration with the entire process, it seemed like a good time to review the subject. McCain had a meeting over the weekend with three possiblities, former nomination opponent Gov. Mitt Romney, and Governors Charlie Christ of Florida and Bobby Jindal of Lousiana.
Romney brings some obvious strengths to the table, including a solid business and economic acumen, strong social conservative credentials, and the possibility of turning some blue states (like Michigan, where his father was governor a generation ago) red. Weaknesses include his history of mutating his stance on specific issues and the disaster that is Massachussets' healthcare plan. His Mormon faith could also an issue with voters in some regions (both postive and negative) of the nation as well.
Gov. Christ is a popular youthful (52) executive in a swing state, could also assist truning the column in Pennsylvania (where he was raised) and has a strong history on criminal issues as Florida Attorney General. His negatives include a less than enthusiastic embrace of social conservative issues, and issues surrounding his personal life - he divorced in 1980 and has been linked to several glamorous female companions.
Gov. Jindal is the even younger (36), brilliant (Rhodes scholar), extremely popular in his home state, has Congressional and other governmental experience, and has a compelling life story, being the son of immigrants and converting to Catholicism in high school. He also holds a lifetime American Conservative Rating score of 98%, and would be the first Asian-American on a ticket from either party, counteracting some of the Obama effect. His major negative is his age and his short stint so far as governor, but given his experience in government (for more than Obama, for example), this could be counter-productive for opponents to emphasize.
Other possibilites examined in some detail include Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, former Penn. Gov. and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, and former Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma.
Then there are the women candidates, which is a disntinct possibility, as Medved explains:
"The claims by Hillary Clinton supporters that their favorite suffered from “sexism” provides a juicy opportunity for the GOP to place a female on the ticket and to benefit from this disgruntlement. If Obama fails to select Hillary (and he seems determined to avoid her if he possibly can) he probably can’t choose another woman (like Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas) because any such selection would less qualified, less logical, than Senator Clinton herself.
In any event, if the GOP could turn to a strongly qualified female, it might create a good deal of excitement and media enthusiasm for the ticket. The problem is that there’s no obvious female contender and the leading names display serious shortcomings."
Medved takes a quick look at Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, North Carolina Senator Libby Dole, and then Medved throws out a surprise possibility I hadn't even heard of, much less considered: Gov. Jodi Rell of Conneticut.
"It’s amazing that this phenomenally popular Governor of Connecticut hasn’t received more attention. In her re-election bid (2006), she received the most votes for governor of any candidate in state history, crushing her Democratic opponent 63% to 36%, in a heavily Democratic state in a nightmarishly tough year for Republicans. Her recent approval ratings approach a stratospheric 80%."
At 62, Rell has a great deal of experience in government, is strong on social con issues, is the wife of a Navy pilot and a breast cancer survivor. Her only negative could be a positive - despite attending three different colleges, she never graduated, and would be the first person on a ticket since Truman without a parchment.
Since he does it so well, I'll let Medved sum it up -
"Bobby Jindal offers the GOP the best chance in many years for reshaping the party's tarnished, tired image without in any way abandoning timeless conservative principles. McCain should select the Louisiana governor several weeks before the convention, to get maximum benefit from his candidacy....If McCain for some reason misses this obvious choice, Mary Jodi Rell of Connecticut offers another ground-breaking possibility which Democrats will find tough to smear.....One of the main needs for the entire party in facing down the energized Democrats in what looks like a tough year for the GOP is a jolt of electricity, of freshness, to send a message that this isn't just your grandfather's GOP -- it's a new, dynamic, determined party ready to lead the country in a bold new conservative direction. Republicans can't win merely by scaring people about Obama. The American people truly do crave change and with his selection of a running mate McCain should signal that they can get the right kind of change -- more freedom, less government and more world leadership, less America-bashing -- by electing Republicans. The choice of the right ticket-mate is particularly important this year not just because of Senator McCain's advanced age, but because of the Republican Party's desperate and obvious need to improve its image."
I have to admit I am intrigued by the different possibilities, and have to agree that a real change of direction is needed. You have to wonder if McCain will go with the usual establishment white guy with a regional impact or make the more dramatic move. Jindal would be an awfully inspiring choice, Rell almost as much so, but you have to wonder if either would really want the job. Whatever the decision, the opposing candidate and their team will be incredibly formidable, and I expect another tough campaign with a razor sharp finish.