07.17.12

Don’t Announce Your Vice-Presidential Pick Yet, Mitt!

It's a tempting moment for Romney to pull the trigger on his VP selection, but Mark McKinnon says waiting may give him more bang for the buck.

Biden was boring. Palin, polarizing.

In July of 2008, about six weeks out from the nominating conventions for both parties, the headlines read: “Kaine 'Very, Very High' on VP Shortlist,” “Why Obama Should Pick Hillary,” “Mitt Romney: McCain's Vice President?” and “Will the Media Pick McCain VP?”

All of them, of course, were wrong. Hysterically wrong on that last one.

But the guessing games continued for weeks. With the media tracking the movements of every contender, news of then-senator Barack Obama’s pick of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate leaked around midnight on August 22, just days before the Democratic National Convention. It was an educated guess based on the added presence of Secret Service agents at Biden’s home. Biden was thought to add foreign policy and political-combat experience to the ticket.

And although Drudge led with a report from the late Robert Novak that Republican Sen. John McCain would reveal his pick the week of July 21, with Romney in the lead, the surprise announcement of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his choice for veep didn’t happen until August 29. And Palin immediately consumed all the oxygen in the room.

Video screenshot

On person who isn't Mitt Romney's pick: Sarah Palin. She hasn't been invited to the convention yet.

This week, history repeats itself as inside-the-Beltway buzz is suggesting Mitt Romney will make his pick public “soon.”

With no more inside knowledge than one who's been through the presidential microwave a few times, I say, nope.

IfRomney popsthe VP cork now, there won't be many bubbles left at the GOP convention at the end of August in Tampa.

But I also say, good move, Team Romney. Smart way to divert attention away from the “Was he or was he not the head of Bain?” and “What is Romney hiding in those unreleased tax returns?” questions, and the sinister Dark Knight memes Team Obama is feeding to the media.

But—and a big but—if Romney pops the VP cork now, there won't be many bubbles left at the GOP convention at the end of August in Tampa. Which means it could fall a bit flat.

On the other hand, the Bain pain is really starting to sting. So perhaps an early VP decision and diversion is in the mix. Here are the latest leaders supposedly on the short list, with my handicapping, from most likely (#1) to least.

The Safe Bets

Rob Portman, #1: As solid as a brick, as safe as a seat belt.

Tim Pawlenty, #2: Has emerged as the best surrogate.

John Thune, #5: Direct from central casting, but with some difficult votes.

The Earthquake

Condi Rice, #7: Position on abortion problematic for the base.

The Rising Stars

Bobby Jindal, #3: A solid social and fiscal conservative with proven governing experience.

Marco Rubio, #4: Young, but with potential vetting issues.

Paul Ryan, #6: An intellectual force, but a lightning rod for the left.

It’s a whole lotta fixation for a pick that is not likely to affect the outcome in the end. Because ultimately people care more about the top of the ticket than who's No. 2.

But we need something to fill up the airwaves for a few more weeks. So why not more idle speculation from armchair pundits? The only ones who know who and when are not the ones commenting right now. And they ain't gonna. So don't believe a thing you hear or read.