Recently, I stated that John McCain should choose Bobby Jindal as his running mate. Jindal is young, talented, and popular among conservatives. He would mollify the fears of many suspicious right-wingers, while blunting the inevitable “Obama-as-first-minority-candidate” theme. A position as McCain’s running mate might not be the best thing for Bobby Jindal, or the best thing for the country (as Jindal lacks experience), but it would give McCain a much better shot at the Presidency.
I didn’t expect McCain to really consider Jindal. But McCain has invited Jindal, along with Mitt Romney and Florida governor Charlie Crist, to his Arizona ranch for Memorial Day. All three men have been suggested as possible running mates.
McCain manager Mark Salter claims that the meeting is “strictly social.” Right. McCain owes Crist a favor, since he endorsed McCain just before the Florida primaries, but Jindal can’t have had many social contacts with McCain (he was in Washington for a very short period of time), and McCain never bothered to hide his distain for Romney while on the campaign trail. Maybe McCain likes hanging out with politicians he hardly knows and (in Romney’s case) doesn’t like—but it’s not likely.
Of the three candidates (and, of course, there must be more than these three names on McCain’s list—Tim Pawlenty, for example, had a wedding to attend, so it would have been difficult for him to make it), it is hard to imagine Charlie Crist as McCain’s choice. He represents the most liberal part of the GOP—he supports climate change laws, abortion, and the “right to die” movement. McCain might not care very much what conservatives think about him, but I think he cares enough not to pick Crist. And since the Democratic party has effectively disenfranchised Florida from nominating process, it’s not like the Republicans have to worry about Florida, at least as compared to other years.
Of the two remaining invitees, most conservatives like Romney as a running mate far more than they do Jindal, but it’s hard to see why. As David Freddoso commented on National Review Online, Romney was “the lesser of two evils. I do not like the idea of choosing both.” Romney was pro-amnesty before he was against it, supported bans on “weapons of unusual lethality” (assault weapons), and experienced a suspiciously convenient conversion on the issue of abortion. He is not a conservative (he was number eight on a list of RINO’s compiled by Human Events, although in fairness this happened before his abortion switch), and a conservative is what McCain needs. Bobby Jindal is one of the few Republican politicians who would fit the bill. (Others who spring to mind: J.C. Watts, Michael Steele, Fred Thompson, though each of these men have significant disadvantages).
Of course, perhaps McCain really is doing nothing more than inviting Jindal for a cookout, and maybe a running mate position for him is the farthest thing from McCain’s mind. I have certainly been wrong before (I picked Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney as the presidential nominees), but I hope that I am right in this instance. McCain needs Jindal—and so does the GOP.