Rob Lattin is Jspace News' Foreign Affairs Correspondent. In addition to covering foreign affairs for Jspace, Rob is a blogger on Israeli and Middle Eastern foreign policy for the Foreign Policy Association, as well as a freelance writer. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the US Presidential election draws near, speculation about who will be the republican vice presidential running mate has heated up. Jspace spoke with Arizona Political Operative Joshua Offenhartz to discuss some of the possible candidates. According to Offenhartz, there are three candidates that he believes make the most sense: Senator Robert Portman (R-Ohio), Governor Chris Christie (R-New Jersey), and former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee.
Offenhartz named Senator Portman the most likely to run alongside of Mitt Romney. Senator Portman’s economic and Washington experiences are extremely valuable assets given the current economic climate and severe political polarization. From 1993-2005 Portman was in the US House of Representatives serving Ohio’s second congressional district. The buckeye state is one of the all-important swing states, and will undoubtedly play a role in Romney’s VP decision. Under the second Bush administration Portman served as both a US Trade Representative and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Portman is also a strong supporter of Israel. In late May he met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and emphasized the importance for continued defense cooperation.
The policy and politics veteran may be the most logical choice, but pundits say he lacks charisma, something that Romney also gets knocked for. Stephen Colbert joked that a Romney-Portman ticket would be “the bland leading the bland.” Should Romney end up feeling that he needs a bit more pizzazz to battle Barack Obama, he may look elsewhere.
One candidate not short on charisma is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Known for his candidness and sense of humor, Christie was at one point believed to have his own presidential ambitions. However, he decided against making a run for the oval office in 2012. The former New Jersey Attorney General and Department of Justice prosecutor is extremely popular and has a successful track record of working across the aisle. Knowing that New Jersey had the second largest Jewish population in the country (many of which are democrats) Christie chose Israel as his first trip abroad as governor.
Republicans love his proven ability to implement major reforms without raising taxes. Christie closed the $10.7 billion state deficit he faced when he was inaugurated as governor in 2010. “He fires up the conservative base and appeals to swing voters who are looking for results,” said Offenhartz.
However, in early May Christie stated that he may not want the vice presidency when he told students at a New Jersey High School: “If Governor Romney called and asked me to sit down and talk with him about it, I'd listen because I think you owe the nominee of your party that level of respect. And who knows what he's going to say? And he might be able to convince me, he's a convincing guy. But I really love this job, I really want to stay in this job, and do I really look like the vice presidential type, you know... I don't think that's me. So I think it's unlikely, but if he called me and ask me, I'd certainly talk to him about it.”
Mike Huckabee, who has been called “America’s leading Christian Zionist,” is Romney’s dark horse candidate. Offenhartz cautioned not to count out the former Arkansas Governor and current Fox show host. With his wit and likability, Huckabee has been making himself a household favorite with the GOP base for the last five years via his show, “Huckabee.” He provides an important connection with the more blue-collar and religious voters, particularly Evangelicals and Latinos, which Romney might not otherwise relate to.
The experience Huckabee provides from his own presidential run in 2008 should also not be undervalued. Romney had an exhausting primary battle, which may have left dangerously little gas in the tank for his showdown with President Obama, a formidable foe to be sure. Huckabee could provide some much needed relief and support.
Conventional wisdom suggests that Romney will not choose his VP until after the August Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Until then, one can be sure that he will weigh his options carefully, having seen in 2008 what can happen to a promising campaign because of a bad VP pick.