President Obama threw a sort-of compliment toward 2008 presidential rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday night, saying McCain is at least more forward-looking than 2012 presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Perhaps not coincidentally, Politico reported earlier Monday that Team Romney believes McCain's campaign was so terrible that Romney's basic 2012 strategy boils down to: "Whatever McCain did, do the opposite." This will be especially true when Romney chooses his running mate. One unidentified GOP official tells Politico that the specter of Sarah Palin is so haunting to the Romney campaign that its main criteria for VP is that he's an "incredibly boring white guy." Is shunning a potential game-changer like the not-white, not-boring Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) really the way to go?
What's wrong with brown people? Maybe Politico was "fed deliberate misinformation designed to ramp up the surprise factor when Romney picks Marco Rubio," says Jonathan Chait at New York. But if not, Team Romney isn't learning from McCain's mistakes so much as it's teeing up a "straightforward case of employment discrimination." The main difference between a "safe and boring" frontrunner like first-term Gov. Bob McDonnell (Va.) and Rubio or Gov. Susana Martinez (N.M.) seems to be that "brown skin or ladyparts are considered risk factors."
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Doesn't Romney's camp want some excitement? By Romney's reported criteria, the "inevitable" pick is Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), says Christian Heinze at The Hill. What a waste. I can see how picking a relative unknown like Martinez would be an obvious "pander," but sorry, Romney: 2008 standout Mike Huckabee wouldn't be. Huckabee is "more than qualified, energizing, supremely vetted," and he's appealing to evangelicals, blue-collar Midwesterners, and the South. Is Romney so risk-averse he can't see that "'doing no harm' doesn't preclude 'doing lots-of-good'"?
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Romney should stick to his comfort zone: Give Romney a break — this can't be easy, says Paul Waldman at The American Prospect. He's "a famously methodical thinker, and I picture him with a 10-page pro/con list for every possible vice-presidential candidate," each with disqualifying attributes. Unless Romney falls far behind in the polls, he probably should pick someone who "won't set anyone's heart aflutter, or suck up too much attention from the top of the ticket." Nobody votes for VP, anyway.
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