Whom Should McCain Pick?
According to reports, John McCain has decided who his running mate will be. The plan is for McCain to announce his choice Friday morning in order to distract from the close of the Democrat National Convention, and then go on a three day tour to introduce his pick to voters prior to the Republican National Convention. McCain is keeping his pick very secret—there are really no signs of whom McCain will pick. In Barack Obama’s case, there was at least a short list (Biden, Kaine, Bayh) to choose from. In McCain’s case, nothing—we are wholly in the dark.
The only indication of who the pick won’t be is the fact that McCain plans on attending a rallies with his choice on Saturday. Saturday, of course, is the Jewish Sabbath, and Joe Lieberman, an observant Jew, does not do any campaigning on Saturday. This fact makes Lieberman an unlikely pick, though given his pro-abortion views, it is doubtful that McCain would select him anyway.
So if Lieberman is out, who is left? Governors Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have often been suggested as possible choices, and both are reasonably safe if unexciting picks. Alaska governor Sarah Palin is a favorite of the conservative blogosphere, and Representatives Eric Cantor and (former representative) Rob Portman are also sometimes mentioned. So who should McCain pick?
For some completely inexplicable reason, Mitt Romney seems to be preferred by conservatives. (If they had liked him this much while he was actually running, maybe he would have gotten the nomination). Apparently, conservatives have forgotten his embarrassing flip-flop on abortion, his abrupt change of position on illegal immigration (like Rudy Giuliani, he was for amnesty before he was against it), and his squishiness on the issue of gun control. As David Freddoso of NRO pointed out, the McCain-Romney duel was a question of the lesser of two evils—and it’s not a good idea to choose both.
As for Tim Pawlenty, he is another candidate considered a safe pick. He is safe enough, but perhaps a bit too safe. He doesn’t seem to have done anything—controversial or not—as governor of Minnesota. John McCain is not a particularly exciting candidate, and he doesn’t want to pick a political celebrity like Barack Obama—but he must want his running mate to generate a little excitement.
I personally love Sarah Palin, and she has a bright future ahead of her in politics. But she like (Bobby Jindal) is simply too inexperienced—she has served as governor of Alaska for less than two years, and her experience before that is almost nonexistent. (She was major of a midsized—by Alaskan standards—city). She’s brilliant—but she isn’t ready.
Rob Portman is solidly conservative, and would probably attract some Ohio voters. But I doubt that he would attract too many—I live in Portman’s old district, and I am entirely unexcited by the prospect of a VP Portman. And none of the Ohioans I know seem very excited either. Selecting Portman wouldn’t hurt McCain, but he wouldn’t help him much either.
Another “do-no-harm” pick is Eric Cantor. Cantor is solidly conservative and solidly pro-life. Like Portman, he would do no harm, though he probably wouldn’t pick up many votes.
So, which of these candidates should McCain pick? (I’m operating under the assumption that McCain’s choice is one of the candidates I mentioned, although he could very well pick some one else—Lindsey Graham, maybe). Palin, whatever her other virtues, is simply not experienced enough. Romney is no conservative, and Joe Lieberman’s (who I have always admired) liberal views would alienate any conservatives starting to warm up to McCain. Pawlenty, Cantor, and Portman are all safe yet dull choices, and McCain should pick one of them. They won’t excite anyone, but they would serve as reliable and effective surrogates, and would let conservatives know that conservatism is an integral part of McCain’s campaign. It’s better to have a running mate who will do no harm than to have a loudmouth like Joe Biden as the other half of the ticket.