Romney-Santorum 2012, Obviously

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 8 2012 3:36 PM

Romney-Santorum 2012, Obviously

National Journal's editors realize that the party conventions are only six months away, and put out the first of many shimmering listicles about who Mitt Romney's running mate may be. Bob McDonnell is tops: "If Romney's team decides they must win the Commonwealth, McDonnell's approval rating in the 60s has to look attractive." An NBC poll this week showed McDonnell adding only 2 points to a Romney ticket. Rob Portman's post-Ohio primary hype continues: "Portman is never going to send chills down the spine of the Republican Party, but he oozes competence, and a lack of competence in government lies at the core of voter anger. " Isn't this a description of Romney himself? Cathy McMorris Rodgers makes it on because "we got a call from a McMorris Rodgers ally urging us to reconsider." Good enough for me!

Sign me up with Tim Noah. The frontrunner for #2 is Rick Santorum, until he either 1) wins the nomination himself or 2) turns this down. Noah goes through the positive reasons; I can answer the negative ones.

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1) Would Santorum alienate swing voters? We'd see about that. There's the specter of Sarah Palin hovering over any VP choice. But Palin's main problem was that she undercut John McCain's "experience" argument by having eighteen months of statewide elected office behind here, and by responding to pressure with aggressive ignorance. The media is already vetting Santorum, for the most part.

2) Could Romney and Santorum get along? I'm not reading any reports of real, lasting Romney anger at Santorum. Are you? The tone of the Romney counteroffensive is a big, drawn-out sigh. Oh, I guess he's a Washington insider. Oh, I guess he supported the Ketchikan bridge to nowhere. Please, voters, just end the primary. Santorum's on record saying that Romney's "disqualified" himself as a nominee, but long ago, Joe Biden said that Barack Obama lacked the experience to be president.

3) Wouldn't Romney want a "first" pick of some kind -- a Hispanic nominee, another woman, to wash away the bad taste swing voters might feel about booting the first black president? Possibly. And Santorum would be the first Italian-American Catholic on a Republican ticket, running with the first Mormon nominee. Low-risk, compared to a Rubio pick. Medium reward.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics