Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney veep pick coming today in Virginia


UPDATE: It's hard to know what to believe at this point, given the secrecy with which the process has been handled and the possibility of further misdirection, but various media outlets, including the Times, National Review, and The Weekly Standard, are saying the signs are pointing to Ryan.

And NBC News is saying it will be Ryan.

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It is being reported that Mitt Romney will introduce his running mate today at an event in Virginia.

So... who's it gonna be?

I wrote yesterday that it would be, or should be, Chris Christie. I've had my doubts, but Richard and I have been predicting him for months now. And I do think he's the dark horse here.

The CW was Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman, two boring white guys, but increasingly the buzz is Paul Ryan, mainly because Romney has been struggling recently, fading badly in the polls, and there's been a lot of pressure from conservatives to pick him.

As the announcement will take place in Virginia, the state's governor, Bob McDonnell has to be viewed as a serious possibility.

But I'll repeat what I wrote yesterday:

I think the "boring white guy" talk has been a diversion. Romney will go with a more exciting pick, and I think that means Ryan, Christie, Marco Rubio, or Bobby Jindal.

Christie is much less ideologically conservative than the others, but any one of the four would energize the right, getting worried conservatives who generally don't much care for Romney even at the best of times back on board.

But I still think Christie makes the most sense.

I've been e-mailing with our friend and contributor tmcbpatriot since the news broke a short while ago, and he makes a strong case for Christie:

I'm going with Christie still. He was the golden boy early on. Everybody wanted him and now there is less than three months to vet him publicly. He is crass and has no respect for anyone, much less his own body. Republicans love that sort of thing and he balances out Romney's elite factor with his New Jersey trash talk and attitude. Plus, Christie appeals to the moron independents. Ryan is too extreme for them. Honestly, nobody can reach the independents except Christie.

The key for Romney, it seems to me, is to pick someone who appeals to conservatives, grassroots and elite alike, while not pushing away swing-state independents and undecideds.

Rubio and Jindal are possibilities in that regard, and Ryan certainly has the political skills to broaden his appeal beyond the Ayn-Rand-loving right, but again it comes back to Christie.

As I wrote in yesterday's post:

Christie isn't necessarily a right-wing ideologue of the kind desired by conservatives, but he's a fighter who would take the fight directly to President Obama. Conservatives would love that. It would fulfill, at least during the heat of the campaign, their wild fantasies about this anti-American foreign interloper being taken down by force, being given the drubbing/lynching he deserves.

There's a sense that Christie would beat up on Obama in a way that Romney can't. And, too, the two of them seem to be a good match: 

[Christie] and Romney genuinely seem to like each other. They're very different, but they seem to have some sort of yin and yang thing going, Romney the privileged rich douchebag, Christie the aggressive, fast-talking bully who does the douchebag's dirty work.

Okay, I'm making such a good case for Christie that I'm beginning to doubt myself. And Christie does have some serious negatives from a conservative perspective, not least his confrontational, bullying way, his refusal to observe right-wing orthodoxy at all times, his New Jersey-ness, and, yes, his size.

So it may very well be Ryan. Or Jindal. Or McDonnell. Or...

Stay tuned.

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A final word for tonight from tmcbpatriot: "Word is that it's going to be Paul Ryan. Pretty scary if that is true."

Sure. He's something of a media darling -- mainly because he's attractive, speaks well, seems to know what he's talking about, is politically savvy, and hasn't been subjected to serious scrutiny yet -- and he's certainly a GOP wunderkind.

But, as Jon Chait writes:

Ryan's capacity for national-level wholesale politics has yet to be proven. He has masterfully played the Washington press corps, but it remains largely an inside game. Most Americans have not formed an opinion about him. He has a long record of radical votes and is the functional leader of a wildly unpopular Congressional wing. The one real electoral test of his plan's political tolerability came in a special election in a Republican district in upstate New York in 2011, in which an underdog Democrat swept to victory by relentlessly pounding Ryan's plan, and especially its provision to privatize Medicare.

The right would love it if it's Ryan, and the excitement would surely give Romney a significant boost, with the media playing right along, but to me the addition of Ryan to the ticket would allow President Obama to make the contrast between himself and his opponent all the more stark, and, for voters, all the more terrifying.

As it is, Romney can try to market himself as a business-savvy pragmatist who can get the economy moving again, which is what he's been doing. But if he's got Ryan with him, then it's not about fixing the economy, it's about implementing a far-right agenda that includes Medicare privatization and other deeply unpopular (with the electorate at large, if hugely popular with conservatives) initiatives. It will be hard for Romney to make the case that he's the one to trust with the economy, offering up vague proposals in the hope that voters take a chance on him, if the debate turns into a referendum not on Obama's handling of the economy but on Ryan's budget plan, which, after all, has become Republican orthodoxy.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. If it's Ryan, there will be time to delve into all the reasons he'd be a disaster for the country. For now, let's just wait for the announcement.

Again, stay tuned. Our comprehensive coverage of Election 2012 will continue.

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