With the selection of Beth Myers, who served as chief of staff for Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts, to now head the search effort for a presidential running mate, the obvious question that arises is who will it be?
Of course, the most important criteria for Myers, who also managed Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, is that the vice presidential candidate do no harm — drawing on the lessons learned from the consequences of a less-than-thorough vetting of Sarah Palin in 2008.
As I’ve said previously, while Sarah Palin was — and is a compelling figure — it is hard to argue in the end, that she actually helped John McCain in 2008.
Thus, the most likely and obvious choice for a vice presidential running mate — Sen. Marco Rubio — a Hispanic from the critical swing state of Florida, which holds 29 electoral college votes — would raise many of the same questions that were raised by the selection of Sarah Palin.
First, is he too young and inexperienced? Second, are there issues in his personal or professional background that would raise questions? And third, is he a ready to be a prime-time player?
A compelling and arguably charismatic figure, Rubio has yet to answer these questions in a legitimate way. And as such, despite the fact that he would be an undeniable help in Florida — and with Hispanics nationally — it is hard to say that he is the most likely choice, despite his obvious appeal on a variety of levels.
Thus, the second most obvious choice is Sen. Ron Portman of Ohio. Sen. Portman’s record and electoral appeal in his home state of Ohio all but guarantee that he is a solid inside-the-Beltway choice.
No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. Thus, while he may be unlikely to electrify America, he could make a critical difference in helping the former Massachusetts governor win this game changer of a state and its 28 electoral votes.
While there may be no other obvious front-runner on Romney’s short list for a running mate, a number of intriguing choices emerge.
The first is Mike Huckabee, the charismatic television and radio talk show host who has a solid base with evangelicals. He is an optimistic figure and will no doubt bolster Romney where he is weakest — in the South.
My hunch is that the former governor, who demurred running for president this year, would accept a vice presidential nomination in a heartbeat. But whether it will be offered is anyone’s guess.
Beyond these three, other possibilities include Rick Santorum — who proved to be a compelling vote-getter in the primary campaign, albeit one who was prone to making gaffes on the campaign trail.
Romney also has his pick of conservative governors like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Past history suggests that the vice presidential candidate rarely if ever makes a significant difference. But this year could be different — given that the race is all but certain to be decided by eight or nine states.
At this point, Rubio and Portman are the two obvious choices who could make a big difference in deciding the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.