1. Bob McDonnell — Virginia’s governor remains the top in the rankings. He puts Virginia as a lock for the GOP, and contributes to a pro-job message. Virginia closed a budget shortfall without raising taxes, and is now in surplus. It has been rated multiple years in a row as the most friendly state for business. McDonnell faced harsh attacks for being a conservative during his election and won in a landslide without backing down. His message on the economy and his campaign were solid. He remains the most likely VP choice for any presidential nominee. As Chair of the Republican Governor’s Association, McDonnell will be well possitioned to raise money and more.
2. Sam Brownback — Another Governor, also with a pro-jobs record. He is from a conservative state whose unemployment rate is a seasonally adjusted 6.6%, as compared to the US rate of just over 9%. Gov. Brownback adds the advantage of having foreign policy experience and time in the Senate. He is not mister-exciting, but remains an unconterversial, solid pick.
3. Jeb Bush - A former governor, who would put FL out of contention as a safe GOP state. The last name, Bush, may be enough to make him a less likely pick. It has also been a while since he was governor.
4. Marco Rubio - A strong conservative who would be a good choice 8 years from now. Unfortunatly, he lacks executive experience and is new to the national scene. However, as the first Hispanic VP nominee, he may well provide a political plus that would help the GOP carry FL and possibily, NM.
5. Rick Santorum - Senator Santorum would be in the race for president if he didn't face the impossible task in 2006 of running against Bob Casey in a year that was horrible for the GOP. That said, life is life. He remains a strong potential choice of VP based on the advantage and skills he has to perform the duties of a VP. As for providing a political plus, that is his weakness. He does not bring any states with him. Also, like Rubio he lacks executive experience.
Note on the list:
-Jindal - he ruled it out. Said he doesn't want the job.
- Haley - Not enough experience
-Mitch Daniels - Doesn't really bring anything McDonell doesn't; can't see how he could be a better choice by any angle.
-Barbour - May sound good from a fundraising perspective, but he doesn't bring any new state into play.
-Palin - Not going to happen.
-Bachmann - not happening. Lacks governor or senator experience. Makes illogical statements sometimes.
-Romney - Romneycare.
- Cain - no experience.
-Gingrich - very smart, sounds great. Still too big a risk and doesn't actually bring any state to table.
-TPaw - endorced the wrong person early. If Romney does somehow win, that would help TPaw's chances. Otherwise, he is toast.
-Christy - possible, but NJ is a bridge too far for the GOP in the general election unless the GOP is already winning big. Unlikely that state would be the swing that makes the difference, and unlikely Christy could swing it. So he brings no state to the table.
-Portman - I thought of him a while; OMB director sounds good until you add the words "under Bush." He may have a chance if internals show a difference for OH; but I just don't think he will be the pick.
Generally speaking, I would expect that the top quality looked for is electorial math. The GOP nominee will want to win. Most states will not base their vote on the nominee. Virginia going for McDonnell is an exception to that. If Santorum could bring over PA, he would be the 1st choice for VP, but he likely cannot. Bush or Rubio could help with FL and perhaps swing that to the GOP -- making them additional possible picks. In the case of Bush, I think he is more likely to swing FL; but Rubio offers a chance to provide a boost with Hispanics, especially importaint in NM.