Thursday, May 22, 2008

McCain Veep Stakes

Senator McCain will meet this weekend with Governors Charlie Crist (FL), Bobby Jindal (LA) and former governor Mitt Romney (MA) in what is no doubt a series of job interviews for the VP slot on the Republican ticket.

First a general word. That McCain is looking almost exclusively at governors is great. He will need some executive experience to balance his absolute lack of such experience.

Romney--he comes from the Northeast and has lots and lots of executive credentials to back him up. However, his politics are not that much more conservative than McCain's. But Romney did well in the GOP primary, he had support and he could help solidify the GOP. But let's face, I can't remember the last time a Republican carried the Northeast let alone Massachussets. Geographically, Romeny doesn't help, politically he doesn't help, so I think this is not the best choice. I could see Romney as a Secretary of State or Defense.

Bobby Jindal--no doubt the GOP wunderkind would greatly help McCain. Jindal's policy credentials, especially on health care, are without equal in GOP circles. He is young, only 37, and dynamic. But here is the problem, Jindal's youth will only highlight McCain's age. Their average age on election day will be like 54, which is a fair age for a president, but not for a President/Vice combination. Plus, I don't think Jindal should get into this, for a number of reasons I pointed out here and here. Plus, McCain is likely to carry Lousiana anyway. Let Jindal clean up Lousiana and run for President after getting re-elected to governor.

Charlie Crist--Now from the obvious standpoint, getting a popular Florida governor not name Bush to be your running mate would give McCain a big edge in a key battleground state. So from that standpoint alone, Crist has to be the frontrunner. But there is more to Crist. He is solidly conservative, mainstream conservative. He would appeal to the conservative base and help solidify McCain's right flank. But Crist has loads of experience as governor and as attorney general. He has taken a hard line stance on gun rights, law enforcement and other mainstream conservative issues. Crist is also a brilliant campaigner and brings solid operational skills. The drawback is that Crist has spent almost all of his career in state politics, which detracts from the national and internationl level skills that Jindal and Romney bring.

Of the three mentioned here, I would choose Crist for a number of reasons, in part because he is clearly outside the beltway and from Florida.

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