Romney/"X?": An Open Letter To Governor Willard M. Romney
By Martin A. Knight Posted in Archived | Romney | ticket | vice-president — Comments (44) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Good day again, Governor Romney,
Since I wrote you last it would seem as if you've found your sea legs - the cutting down on the negative ads and running to your strengths seems to be working (who'd have thunk it, eh?) That said, that was a very nice win in Michigan, and in retrospect, it would seem that the rather unconventional decision to step it down in South Carolina to go for the gold in Nevada was something of a very clever move. So now you're heading towards Super Tuesday with the highest number of delegates, raw votes and the most cash. Couple all that with apparently very good Florida numbers, you're looking like you very well could win this thing.
You still have a long way to go. But well done sir, if you don't mind my saying so. Very well done indeed.
All that said, let me get straight to it - let's talk about the guy (or gal) you're picking to be your Vice-President. You need to pick somebody who will balance your ticket in terms of geography and electorate appeal, experience in those areas of policy where you're perceived to be weak, and just as importantly, someone that makes your ticket one that the overwhelming majority of Republicans who still find it hard to trust you would want to vote for. By and large Republicans continue to place a great deal of stock in the Reagan Administration aphorism that "personnel is policy" - the guy you pick to be your Vice-President is an excellent opportunity for you to close the deal.
The good thing is that you seem to have figured this out - the Judicial Advisory Council you've put together is a case in point; I can't say that it's anything less than a seriously major upgrade from the Governor's Council you had to contend with in Massachusetts, and the names on it are very pleasant reading for any Republican who believes in the curtailing of judicial activism and the production of legislation by unelected men and women in black robes.
But let's go back to who "X?" would have to be on the Romney-"X?" ticket. First of all, I am of the opinion that it would be a mistake to pick all but perhaps two of the guys who are (or were) your rivals for the nomination;
 Fred Thompson: is not likely to happen - like I said before, it would be better if he were to top the ticket anyway. However, his presence on the ticket would shore up your credentials with all three legs of the GOP base and there is a chance that it would unite and perhaps even excite, at least, his sadly too-small if passionate fan base. This is a running mate I would have urged you to seriously consider though, that is, if I thought he'd be willing to leave his wife and young children to be the second name on the ticket. Note however that all the evidence so far points to the fact that his campaign skills leave much to be desired - his failure to gain traction despite his nearly pristine conservative record in South Carolina in a GOP Primary is not reassuring in that regard. It's all very well to favor substance over style - and Thompson has substance in spades, but a lack of style ensures that the substance never gets any of the attention it deserves.
 Sam Brownback: has already endorsed John McCain but that could be smoothed away by the reminder that Senators tend to stick together. That said, a Romney-Brownback ticket would be nothing to sneeze at, for more Republicans at least. Social conservatives would turn out for such a ticket as the Senator more than adequately shores up the ticket with his own stellar record on the social issue side of things. Another plus is that his fiscal record, while not particularly spectacular, is actually quite solid. The only problem is that he does not add any major strength/experience in the area of national security. However, this is not a fatal flaw. If anything, it is his endorsement of McCain that poses the major argument against giving him a call and offering him the role of "X?". I would recommend against it as a first choice though because I think "X?" should be someone else.
Senators Jim DeMint, Jeff Sessions of Alabama or John Cornyn of Texas were my suggestions in my previous letter and I think any one of the three would make a fine Vice President. While they do not provide any experience on the national security front, all are solid conservatives with sterling records that would add major heft to a Romney-"X?" ticket from a conservative's perspective and they all provide a great deal of regional balance and more or less solid assurance that the South would be painted a solid Red on Election Day 2008. However, considering how rare it is to have solid conservative Senators fighting the good fight in the far too collegial world of the United States Senate, most Republicans would be loathe to lose them and take a chance on their Governors (all Republicans thank goodness) adding yet another invertebrate to the Senate.
So, upon further thought, I thought perhaps being a little unconventional was called for. Three names came into my head at the time. Michael Steele, Julius (Ceaser) Watts and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. The argument against Michael Steele would be that he has never won an election on his own, but I have no doubt that a Romney-Steele ticket could indeed become something of a juggernaut to contend with for the Democrats, especially if Hillary wins their nomination and declines to select Barack Obama to be her Vice-President (perhaps for fear or being outshone on convention night). Steele, unfortunately, would not bring along his very Democratic state. This last does not apply to JC Watts - though not necessarily because of him; being that Oklahoma is pretty solidly Red at the Presidential level. However, Watts' years in the House gives him a credibility that Steele lacks as a man who has faced the voters (albeit on much friendlier territory) time and again and easily ended up being sent back into public office each time. Another person who would make a very fine Vice-President is the state of Tennessee's Marsha Blackburn. Ignore the fact that she (understandably) defected from you to back a candidate from her state and focus instead on the fact that she is one of the very best the GOP has to offer in all of Congress - consider the fact that back in Tennessee she was at the forefront of the fight against a Republican Governor's attempts to enact a state income tax, that she's as socially conservative as the day is long, and that she, by all accounts, exudes competence and intelligence out of every pore.
Either one of these three would be excellent choices to be your "X?". But they all lack national security credentials and experience, and under the circumstances, with troops on the field in Afghanistan and Iraq, this is a vulnerability in an area that is a Republican strong suit in what still doesn't look like it's going to be a good year for the GOP.
So, being a bit more unconventional, I thought some more and came up with another name. He is a guy who lives up Virginia right now - has oodles of national security experience and all indications are that he is a social conservative. His fiscal views are unknown largely because they have been irrelevant in his long (almost forty year) career of wearing the nation's uniform - an olive green uniform, by the way, so he's a United States Marine (being that there's no such thing as an former Marine). However, since that's where you're strong that's not much of a problem, I'd think. He wanted to continue serving his country but certain complications came up and he was prevented from doing so.
He might be up to continue serving his country though, in a somewhat different capacity. I mean, he may not be interested in being a Senator. But being a Vice-President is not exactly the same thing; he gets to support his men and women on the field, and by his mere presence tweak some noses in the Senate while he's at it - something I'm sure Jeff Sessions perfectly understands. What do you think of a Romney-Pace ticket, Governor?
Personally, I think it's something you should look into.
I am honored to remain,
Martin A. Knight