Why Romney shouldn’t (and won’t) be McCain’s running mate

June 2, 2008

Why you should bet against Mitt Romney

According to the betting markets at intrade.com, the price on Mitt Romney becoming McCain’s running mate is 19.2-20.1. Now, in fairness, the arguments behind Mitt Romney do seem logical as he would unite economic conservatives behind McCain and Romney’s support would help him in the Mountain West. However, this would be a mistake for three reasons. The first reason is that Romney is hated by social conservatives. Romney’s supporters like to put this down to bigotry with Novak claiming that, ‘Social conservatives are less enthusiastic about him, and many evangelicals still oppose Romney because of his Mormon religion’. However, Romney’s cynical conversion to social conservatism just before he announced his candidacy genuinely upset many people, as did his belief that his flip floppery entitled him to be the standard bearer of the religious right. Although, to put it crudely, most people of faith would be happy to forgive the local lady of the night if she truly repented, they would feel uncomfortable about her leading the choir the very same night (and even more so about her running Sunday School).

The second reason is that this is unnecessary. If Jeremiah Wright’s anti-American ranting and ravings and Obama’s liberal voting record have not nailed down the Republican base then nothing will. Even die-hard Romney supporters such as Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter have now changed their tone and are focusing their fire on Obama. It might be brutal, but there is nowhere that people on the hard right can go, unless they really want to throw away the election by voting for a former ACLU lawyer. From my experience following British politics, pandering to ones base, when one does not need to do so, will only inflate their self-importance and reignite a sense of entitlement. In any case, given the Republican deficit in the polls, and the fact that it is Independents and conservative Democrats who will decide this election, McCain should be more worried about those voters, rather than constantly focusing on those who will probably hold their noses and vote for him.

However, the most important reason is that selecting Romney will send a signal to voters that McCain is still following not leading the Republican party. Just as Bush’s popularity ebbed away and his immigration package imploded when he took to the bunker in the White House, McCain cannot send a signal to voters that he is weak. After all, if he picks Romney, many voters will think themselves justified in believing that a McCain administration will be constantly looking over its shoulder. The truth is that, contrary to the convention wisdom, McCain’s anger and ability to forge a course, regardless of whether it antagonises people or not, is a strength. After all, the next American president will need to deal with at least two nations that are hell bent on destroying Israel and defeating democracy in Iraq, as well as a Congress that is more interested in pandering to antiwar bloggers that solving domestic and global problems. Maybe my suggestion of Lieberman is a bit too radical (though it shouldn’t be) but he has to pick someone who is genuinely his choice, not that of Bush or Rove.

In terms of betting, I think that McCain realises this, even if some on the right do not. I believe that McCain is merely showing an interest in Romney in an attempt to make sure social conservatives and evangelicals stay on board, just as his support for Huckabee is an attempt to do something similar for evangelicals. After all, if McCain was going to pick Romney there is no way he would be seen to do so at the behest of Rove and Bush. I am still going to stick with the idea that the chancce of Mitt Romney are no more than 10% at best, making it good value to bet against Romney.



  1. I think McCain will pick Romney or Jindal because the truth is the GOP is not unified behind their candidate. Thus, rather than appeal to Independents (McCain’s strongest draw), he’ll cave in to the party’s demand and nominate someone who will shortly become as forgotten as Jack Kemp in 2000.

    Consider the precarious situation the Republicans will be in the post-primary season: Obama is no longer a member of Trinity United Church, so expect cat-calls over Jeremiah Wright to become less and less potent during the summer-season. Short of Hillary being Obama’s running-mate, the GOP will have lost their the best lightning-rod to rally conservatives against Barack Obama. Now, they have got their own problems to deal with.

    The Ron Paul/Bob Barr Libertarian wing of the party is already as gone as disco. This alone is more damaging in real-time politics than any threat Hillary’s supporters may huff and puff about this weekend. McCain will never win the Libertarians back, costing his party anywhere between 5% and 15% of their base. This alone is so damning that it could instantly turn the Libertarian Party into the Ross Perot of 2008 (or at least a bigger problem than Ralph Nader ever was in 2000).

    As for the social-conservatives, I think only Huckabee or Brownback will fully satisfy them. The reason why I say this is because they have to knock Jindal down a notch for not being white. (Look no further than the Romney campaign to see their blatant discrimination.) Huckabee and Brownback, I think it’s safe to say, bring absolutely nothing to the table save the fact that the Party will be in as big a piece as it will be. This is no sign of strength when it comes to confronting the Democrats.

    In short, the McCain campaign is already starting to look a lot like Bob Dole’s in 1996: a respected (albeit reactionary) war-hero past his prime and out of touch with America. McCain was an extremely viable candidate in 2000 and may have been able to defeat Al Gore in his own right. Instead, he’s “the best of what’s left” for the Republicans going into the 2008 Election.

    Much like in 1996, Colin Powell is his best pick for VP. However, unlike 1996, Colin Powell has never had such nice things to say about the Democrat nominee.

  2. Giacomo,

    I disagree, I do not think McCain has to pick a Jindal or Romney to hold the party together. The right has rallied behind McCain because of Rev. Wright, Obama’s cling to guns comments, etc.

    I think that McCain’s best move for VP is Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. A lot of Democratic women are upset about Obama beating their girl Hillary and putting a young vibrant tough woman on the bottom of the ticket might be able to attract at least 5% to 10% of them.

    Also she will help him with both conservatives and independents. She helps him with conservatives because she is Pro-life and Pro-Gun. She helps with independents because she is truly an independent thinking person. She resigned from a corrupt Republican commission. She than challenged the sitting Republican Governor in the Primary and went on to beat a former Democratic governor in the general.

    She has also governed in a independent way. She has veto much of the budget that her own Republican controlled legislator has summited to her.

    Putting her on the ticket would also take away the Democrat argument that Republicans are willing to send others to war but not their own. Both McCain and Palin have sons who have served tours of duty in Iraq .

  3. Gov. Palin is a great choice, no doubt… but she offers absolutely nothing electorally. If McCain were to pick Romney, it would at least offer him the best chance he’ll get to carry Michigan. With Gov. Palin, all she can do is prevent an Obama upset in Alaska.

    As for Gov. Palin’s appeal towards the ex-Hillary crowd, I don’t think that’s going to happen. For one thing: Hillary is probably going to concede this month so that Obama can cover her debt. When that happens, expect her to campaign left-and-right for Obama for the simple fact that money talks (say, $20 million dollars worth).

    Another factor is that pro-life vs. pro-choice is a losing argument when it comes to women voters. Unless you’re talking about women voters who oppose abortion, they were probably going to vote GOP anyway. The best she can hope for are the votes of old ladies who want to see a woman in the White House before they die, and they weren’t enough to prevent Walter Mondale from suffering the worst electoral defeat in a generation.

    And the final reason why I don’t expect Gov. Palin to help McCain much with women voters, the ugly fact that she’s too good-looking. White-women hate other white-women that are better looking than them. Don’t believe me? Ask your girlfriend.

  4. Giacomo,

    I never said Palin would drive a ton of woman votes to McCain but she could give him a bump of something like 5%. Gov. Palin is also very well known throughout the Pacific Northwest and could help McCain in Oregon and Washington.

    I think she and McCain would represent a republican brand that the voters have not seen in a very long time. Both of them are independent minded people who do what they think is right not what they think in politically best.

    Palin and McCain also have strong records of bring about change and implementing it throughout government. While Obama has a record of talking about change.

  5. Heh,

    Matt, you talk about Obama’s record for change like you’re reading from Hillary Clinton’s talking points. Obama just became the first African-American in history to win a presidential primary.

    The man is change, and he’s going to change the face of this country with his presidency.

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