Mitt Romney gave some details about what he’s looking for in a running mate during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd yesterday, and some are wondering whether there was a hint that Romney will go for one of the bolder VP options:
CHUCK TODD: What do you want your running mate to say about you? What do you want your selection to say about what kind of president you’re going to be?
MITT ROMNEY: I don’t think I have anything for you on the VP running mate. Other than I– I certainly expect to have a person that has a strength of character, a vision for the country, that, that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country. I mean, I happen to believe this is a defining election for America; that we’re going to be voting for what kind of America we’re going to have.
If Romney is truly seeking a running mate with a “vision for the country,” that seems to contradict the conventional wisdom that his choice is going to be based primarily on competence and governing ability. Rob Portman and Tim Pawlenty are fine candidates in many ways, but you’d have a hard time attributing a grand national vision to either one of them. Out of all of the likely VP choices, Paul Ryan is by far the one most associated with the word “vision” (this is a measurable fact, as New York magazine illustrates with a graph of Google search results). And while Marco Rubio’s vision may be less developed and obvious, the Weekly Standard has argued that he would be an ideal candidate to provide a contrast to Obama’s vision of the American dream:
The moment he’s picked, Rubio will become by far the most prominent Hispanic politician in the country. And in a contest largely about competing visions of the American dream, against a president who has minimized the importance of hard work as a road to success, Rubio’s personal story, of a father who worked as a bartender and a mother as a maid to provide opportunities for their children, would provide a powerful counterargument.
As John argued earlier today, Romney’s policies need to be more than wooden props in a stump speech. His choice of running mate may not give him a big, instant bump in the polls. But the right pick could help sharpen and fortify Romney’s own vision for the country, providing him with the support (and ideological confidence) to get below surface-level on his proposals.