For those of you familiar with my two-year campaign to crush the Romneyites, drive them before me, and hear the lamentations of their women, the idea that I would willingly consent to Mitt Romney joining the Republican ticket as McCain’s running mate must seem absurd. At one point, I would have agreed with you. To be totally honest, I’m not a Mitt Romney fan, and I’m not sure that will ever change. However, there are several reasons why I find the increasingly likely prospect of a McCain-Romney ticket at least palatable.
First, I don’t really have any say in the matter. Only one man, John McCain, can decide who he wants to run with him this November. Three months ago I would have said there was absolutely no chance McCain would pick Romney for VPOTUS. But now, all indications are that this is a very real possibility, and perhaps even a probability. Since I supported John McCain for the presidency, I have already made a commitment to trust his judgment up to a certain point. Given that this is the first real decision he has to make, I wouldn’t be much of a team player if I jumped ship already.
Second, as much as I don’t care for the former Massachusetts governor, he’s been a great team player this summer. The guy lost $35 million of his own money ($35 MILLION!!!) only to go down to inglorious defeat. After a loss like that I’d want to crawl into my golden-framed, king size bed and curl up on a mattress stuffed with $100 bills while clutching my beautiful wifeand talking about all the imported caviar and foreign sports cars I would buy to chase away the pain. To give all due credit to Mitt Romney, he only did that for about a week, making him a much stronger man than I realized. Ever since then he’s been out beating the bushes telling everybody what a great president John McCain will be, and how the GOP has to crush the Dems in November in order to win the war in Iraq and keep this country from sliding into a Depression. In short, Romney has cowboyed up, and I have to give him credit for that.
Third, if I have to be totally objective about this, Romney really is one of the top two or three picks John McCain could make for VP this November. In terms of geographical advantages, Arnold or Crist would be the logical picks, but last I checked Arnold’s birth certificate still said “born in Austria,” and Crist is a moderate pro-choice Republican who might cause McCain more headaches than he needs right now. Romney gives McCain a certain amount of daylight to work with in the Northeast, particularly purple states like New Hampshire and Maine, and marginally blue states like Connecticut and New Jersey (once upon a time Republicans used to win CT regularly). Romney is also popular in Michigan, where his Dad’s name still carries a lot of weight, and maybe other parts of the rust belt as well. Finally, Romney would help McCain get out the Mormon vote in the mountain states. Granted, McCain will win Utah in a walk no matter who he picks, but Nevada and New Mexico will be close, and there are a lot of Mormons in both states.
Finally, you have to consider the intangibles. For Romney, the biggest intangible is his personality. One of the reasons why I didn’t (and to an extent still don’t) care for the guy as a person was that he gave the impression of a guy who would do anything to win. Let’s be honest, that hasn’t changed. But the very quality that made him unattractive as a presidential candidate makes him much more attractive as a vice presidential candidate. To put it bluntly, McCain’s Veep has got to be a junk yard dog this November for him to have a chance of winning the election. That’s the way of these things: the traditional role for the presidential candidate is the statesman. The traditional role for the vice presidential candidate is Al Pacino at the end of “Scarface.” To my mind, the biggest flops as VP candidates in recent memory have been Jack Kemp and John Edwards. Why? Take a look at their debates with Al Gore and Dick Chaney respectively. Both of them walked away from their debates looking like a dimwit matador who made the mistake of showing up to a bull fight without his sword and cape. What do you think the chances are of that happening to Mitt Romney?