Although it was somewhat behind the scenes, one of the greatest developments this week in politics may have been Mitt Romney narrowing his field of potential vice-presidential candidates, possibly to a final short list of just three, according to numerous reports. No announcement has been made yet as to whom the former Massachusetts governor has chosen for his running mate (if a decision has yet been made), but speculation centers around three men: Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty (former MN governor) and Bobby Jindal, the current governor of Louisiana.
Rob Portman (pictured) is probably the least familiar of any of the three names to people not familiar with politics, but the 56-year-old freshman Senator from Buckeye State may be the most likely to get the nod from Romney for the vice-presidential bid. As of July 17th, online odds-maker Intrade gave Portman a 29% chance of being named Romney’s running mate. For this rise, Rob Portman is this column’s political winner of the week. If Mitt Romney decides to pick a “safe” choice for his VP slot, Portman is likely to fit his needs well. He not likely, however, to bring in a lot of new voters who would not otherwise have been attracted to the former Massachusetts governor.
Tim Pawlenty has been expected to be in consideration for the VP nomination since he became the first candidate to drop from the race for the Republican nomination for president. Like Portman, he would be a safe call, but unlikely to energize the base. Intrade lists his chances at over 24%.
Just 41 years old, the Indian-American Jindal would clearly represent the greatest gamble of any of those three men. His youth and inexperience could become fodder for Democratic strategists, but Jindal is well liked among conservatives and could ignite the base of the party.
It would be unusual for the presumptive Republican nominee to name his running mate this far before the Republican convention during the last week in August in Tampa. However, most national polls have found Romney trailing President Obama, and choosing a popular running mate could help the eventual nominee pull a few more points, especially in swing states.
One person who seemed to gain a chance to become Romney’s running mate has already fallen from the scene, as after a brief flash of popularity during the second week of July, Condoleezza Rice went from serious contender to also-ran in the course of less than 5 days, making her our political loser of the week. She is pro-affirmative action, has never run for political office and says she has no interest in the position. However, Sarah Palin had kind words for the former Secretary of State. It is unlikely that she was ever being considered as seriously as the flash of news stories made it seem.
This week, the picture of who will make up the Republican ticket for president just became a little clearer.
(U.S. Senate photo)