Romney looks close to naming a running mate
SPECULATION continued yesterday that Mitt Romney might announce his choice of vice-presidential running mate before departing for the London Olympics and Israel next Tuesday, in the hope of steadying his floundering campaign.
The Obama campaign said the Romney team had “gone off the deep end” after John Sununu, the co-chair of Romney’s campaign, told a media conference call on Tuesday, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American”.
Sununu later apologised for the remark, which echoed ‘birther’ conspiracy theories that Obama was not born in the US. Romney compounded the damage by telling a rally in Pennsylvania that Obama’s economic polices were “extraordinarily foreign”.
Romney’s bid to paint Obama as a “crony capitalist” has fallen flat, and Republicans, as well as Democrats, are baying for Romney to release more tax returns.
By naming a vice-presidential running mate, he might restore his campaign. “There was a lot of talk. We’re not quite there yet. And we’re going to be there soon,” Ann Romney told ABC’s Good Morning America yesterday.
The appointment of a director of operations and a communications director for the future vice-presidential candidate on Tuesday strengthened conjecture that an announcement is imminent. Presidential candidates usually present their running mate just before their party’s convention, but Romney may not wait until the Republican confab starts in Tampa, Florida, on August 27th.
Since spring, he has conferred with Beth Myers, the aide he put in charge of the search for a running mate, several times weekly.
The vetting process begins with a telephone call from Romney. Candidates must answer 80 questions about themselves and their families, including “Have you ever been unfaithful?”
Their performance on television talk shows is scrutinised, and they are interviewed by a panel of lawyers. The documents they submit are stashed every night in a vault in Romney’s Boston headquarters.
Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, known as T-Paw, and Ohio senator Rob Portman head the putative shortlist published by the New York Times yesterday. Longshot candidates include former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Several names that long churned through the rumour mill, including New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Florida senator Marco Rubio, seem to have fallen off the list.
The first requirement is that candidates do “no harm” to the campaign. Republican strategists stress that a repeat of the Sarah Palin experience – when Senator John McCain chose an ignorant, inexperienced governor of Alaska as a running mate – must be avoided at all costs.