Morning Briefing: July 13th, 2012
By Steve Deace
On Thursday, Matt Drudge, who has been a Romney Campaign mouthpiece since 2007, posted on his website that Condoleezza Rice has emerged as a “surprise frontrunner” to be Mitt Romney’s running mate.
Back on May 2nd I predicted that’s who Romney would select:
My Latest Romney Veepstakes Odds
When trying to determine who Mitt Romney will select as his running mate you need to first understand how Romney and the Republican Party establishment works.
First, when Romney says he’ll pick someone “ready to lead on day one,” that means no Sarah Palins. In Republican establishment world, Palin is the reason McCain lost, when in reality she was the reason he actually didn’t lose as bad as Mondale did with conservatives staying home rather then vote for the maverick (or saboteur if you prefer).
Second, Romney will not select someone whose charisma overshadows his own, because that would just highlight his own shortcomings all the more.
Finally, if there is a chance to accomplish both of these goals while also pandering, rest assured Romney will do that.
That’s why our current favorite is former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at 3-2 odds. She’s the only person with an impressive enough resume and boring enough personality who also gives Romney the chance to say “see, I’m not a racist sexist.” Not to mention Rice has described herself as “mildly pro-choice” and also supports so-called homosexual rights and civil unions (which is just homosexual marriage by another name), so she’s the perfect fit for Mitt.
The rest of our current odds: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell 2-1, Ohio Senator Rob Portman 3-1, and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan 10-1.
The next slate of candidates meet two of the three thresholds, but would also outshine Romney in the eyes of many so they’re the second tier: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal 50-1, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum 75-1, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie 100-1, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio 250-1.
Updated Analysis 07/13/12
I don’t know if Romney will actually pick Rice. This seems like a trial balloon to me. But she certainly fits the prevent-defense mentality of Romney and the Republican establishment.
Right now I would put the odds of Romney defeating Obama this fall at 40%. He’s not exciting voters himself, and still faces an uphill climb in the electoral college. If Condi Rice is his running mate, I would drop those odds to 25%. Rice’s selection will lead to an even more deflated social conservative base. She is at-best as socially moderate as Romney’s current positions (as always, with Romney put the emphasis on current), and she may even be more socially liberal. However, she fits my theory that Romney and the Republican establishment has had two simultaneous goals throughout this campaign: to marginalize conservatives (especially Christians) and also defeat President Obama. But to be fair to Rice, there aren’t too many choices Romney could make that would improve his chances.
It’s possible Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is revered enough by conservatives to move the needle slightly. Jindal and Rice were two of the people Romney recently brought with him to an exclusive fundraiser. Rep. Paul Ryan might also be a plus because of his strong stance on the budget, although he lacks the overall resume of either Jindal or Rice.
But I think former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee might be the only person alive that could improve Romney’s odds of winning this election. Maybe even improving his odds to 50-50.
Huckabee’s current internal polling numbers on likability are in the stratosphere, and Huckabee would give Romney his best shot to ignite the social conservative base of the GOP. In modern times (since 1976) no Republican presidential candidate has managed to win a presidential election without exciting social conservatives.