Fact Sheet

Romney's VP pick: 4 reasons a 'boring white guy' would hurt the GOP ticket

The conventional wisdom is that Mitt Romney is about to announce a safe, bland, and white running mate. Here's why he shouldn't

Republican soothsayers are predicting that Mitt Romney is about to end the long guessing game over his pick for running mate, and the safe bets are still on Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) or former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.). But as time ticks down, says Jack Cafferty at CNN, "some Republicans are getting nervous about what will happen if Romney goes with a safe pick — a buttoned-down, cautious, boring white guy... sort of like himself." Here are four reasons the presumptive GOP presidential nominee should, as The Weekly Standard advises, "go bold" in his VP pick.

1. At this point, boring is the kiss of death for Romney
Team Romney has spent months reassuring us that he would tap a strong "anti-Palin: Safe, steady, hyper-qualified, and without a roguish bone in his — yes, definitely his — body," says Michelle Cottle at The Daily Beast. But then his campaign started faltering, and the GOP suddenly saw the risk of a "political white bread" ticket "so anti-charismatic it becomes the political equivalent of a Dementor, sucking the life force from all the hapless voters who wander into its path." With a "dishwater-dull choice" like Portman or Pawlenty, Romney trades a disaster like Sarah Palin for "a greater danger" still: "A veep nominee so dull that no one even cares what he says to Katie Couric."

2. He needs a jolt of positive buzz, ASAP
So far, despite his best efforts, Romney's months-long search for the right VP "hasn't generated much buzz," says Kimberly Atkins in the Boston Herald. That's probably because most people expect him to pick Portman, and Portman is "boring." Yes, he's also loyal and experienced, but the increasingly unpopular Romney doesn't need someone to sell his policies, or even attack Obama's. He needs someone to make the ticket "more likable," able to fire up a crowd and make him seem "less overly starched and out of touch." In other words, "Mitt can't afford to share the ticket with another stiff, boring guy." 

3. He already has the "boring, white" vote locked up
Given the months of coverage about how Romney lacks the common touch, "doubling down on the bland, middle-aged white guy quotient on the Republican ticket could be a major mistake," says Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. After all, this reputation as the "party of old(er) white men" is a big reason Romney and his predecessors "have struggled mightily to win large percentages of minority voters — most notably Hispanics." If Romney doesn't win over more Hispanic voters, he will lose Florida — and the election, say Stephen Hayes and William Kristol in The Weekly Standard. He can easily fix that by passing over "safe" picks like Portman and Pawlenty for a "bold" one: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). 

4. A bold pick shows Republicans that Romney gets it
Vice presidential nominees rarely if ever determine the outcome of an election, says The Daily Beast's Cottle, but "the VP pick serves more broadly as a window into the heart and judgment of the nominee." And a boring white guy would above all "confirm the suspicions of many anxious Republicans that the governor lacks vision, fire, and boldness." That's why Romney's VP choice really matters, say Hayes and Kristol in The Weekly Standard. Going for the gold shows Romney "knows this is a big moment, and that he's willing to run a big campaign" Republicans, and Americans, need to see that.

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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