January 16, 2012 Two more VP ideas
I thought of a couple of other Romney running mates who are a little more impeccably right-wing than some of the others I have thought of, and yet are still pretty safe picks:
*Fred Thompson, former Senator and TV actor. Thompson has gravitas and experience. Now you may say, “Didn’t Thompson discredit himself by running for President and getting hardly any votes?” Not at all. The skills needed to stick out in a multicandidate field are quite different than those needed to be a Vice-Presidential candidate. To win a multicandidate race, you must stick out in a crowd- which means you normally have to say or do something interesting (unless, like Romney, you have more money and organization than your opponents) – which Thompson did not, to the best of my memory, do.
But a good running mate’s first priority is to avoid* losing votes. Thus, a good VP candidate must avoid saying anything overly controversial, and not come across as too much of a lightweight. For example, Walter Mondale was a perfect Vice President but a so-so presidential candidate; he articulately but unimaginatively spouted the liberal party line of his day, much like a Democratic Fred Thompson. Similarly, Thompson is not particularly exciting, but he is quite good at not making mistakes.
*Retiring Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona. I was skimming through a book by a forrmer White House speechwriter who worked for Kyl first. He praises Kyl as a nice man who avoided headlines and spent his days working on unglamorous Arizona-related issues. I thought to myself, “Aha! A man with the soul of a Vice-President.”
*I realize some people actually think that the right VP candidate can bring in a significant number of votes. But I find this extremely hard to believe; as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, there is little evidence that VP candidates bring in more than a small fraction of the vote even in their home state, so they probably don’t bring in many votes anywhere else.