Thursday, February 14, 2008

McCain's Veep

Now that Romney has officially withdrawn from the race and formally endorsed McCain, urging his delegates to vote for McCain at the convention, we should all be breathing a big sigh of relief.

As Montana Headlines pointed out early last December, once Republicans accepted the fact that all of our candidates were flawed in one way or another, Sen. John McCain stood alone as someone who could unite the party and win in the general election. To quote ourselves at the time:

Taking a cold, hard look at the field, it is hard to escape the notion that there may be only one guy who can credibly pull the coalition together for the general election next year. And, amazingly, it may be John McCain.

And indeed, it seems that the Republican electorate came to the same conclusion. The conservative pundits disagreed, grasping onto Mitt Romney as the best "anybody but McCain" candidate they could find ready to hand. That, of course, didn't go very far. One hopes that Romney's decision to endorse McCain (something he should have done the day he decided to stop campaigning) will now make all of the anti-McCain forces stop and take a deep breath. He is, unquestionably, the best candidate for the general election, and it is a pretty narrow definition of conservative that would exclude him from the fold.

So now, all that remains is for Huckabee to find a graceful time to withdraw. He has the money to continue through the Texas primary, after which he was expected to withdraw, but perhaps Romney's move will prompt him to do so sooner. He and Romney are jostling for positioning within the party, and Romney's move (a smart one on his part) should force Huckabee's hand.

And so that favorite parlor-game of "who will be the VP" is already well under way. Yes, we realize that the Vice-Presidency isn't worth a warm bucket of spit in and of itself. But in the GOP, this is pretty serious business, because of our penchant for giving former VP's or former VP nominees the nod to be our Presidential nominee later. That was what made the selection of Cheney by Bush so significant in 2000: no heir-apparent for 2008.

Quin Hillyer, writing in the American Spectator, has compiled an excellent summary of what McCain needs in a running mate. He summarizes:

McCain needs a solidly "full-spectrum" conservative, reformist, youngish, cool (MH: as opposed to hot-tempered,) well-rounded, brainy, all-media-respected, articulate, telegenic, border-state/constituency-challenging, non-party-weakening, executive-experienced, running mate who can handle the presidency at a moment's notice.

He is saving the specific names for a later column, but only one name jumps to mind based on his article: Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.

We also need to keep in mind that if McCain is to remain true to form, he will pick whoever he wants, and not someone out of a conservative wish-list. So we may see a maverick choice. But on the other hand, he's not stupid, and with Pawlenty, McCain would get both a long-time supporter and political ally and someone whom the conservative movement basically trusts -- and who fits all of the other nice criteria Hallyer lists.

One thing that we have to hope McCain doesn't do, and that is to succumb to the Condolezza Rice theory (she's black and a woman, and so will trump either Obama or Hillary.) Throwing someone into a national campaign who hasn't run for so much as state legislature would be simply suicidal. Running for office isn't as easy as it looks, and McCain will need someone who has at least one or two major (and winning) statewide races under his belt.

No comments: