Mitt Romney is reportedly near the top of John McCain's list of potential running mates. The former Massachusetts governor and recent McCain rival is the one being talked about by GOP insiders, even though he and McCain ran a fairly bitter campaign against each other before Romney dropped out in February. Here's why McCain would be wise to consider him.
- He's still a big name. Romney raised his profile considerably during his presidential race and could offer McCain a higher bounce in the polls upon announcement of Romney as a running mate than a lesser known prospect, like Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty would.
- He's from Michigan. McCain's trying to take Michigan and other Rust Belt states that went for Kerry in 2004 away from the Democrats. Romney easily won Michigan's Republican primary, and picking Romney could make things tougher on Barack Obama in Midwestern swing states.
- Apparently, he "looks presidential."
- He was a flop. Despite being one of the favorites to win the GOP nomination heading into 2008, Romney finished a disappointing third behind McCain and Mike Huckabee in the primaries. How much of a momentum boost can you get from a guy who squandered all of his and let a guy who was left for dead last summer and a guy who had less national name recognition than Tommy Thompson lap him in delegates?
- He's not winning any popularity contests in the South. Romney didn't do so well in Southern states during primary season, as evangelicals tended to favor Huckabee. Normally this wouldn't matter, as the South tends to go Republican regardless of who's running. But a big part of Obama's strategy is trying to pluck some southeastern states from the Republicans. Vrginia, Georgia and the Carolinas (with their combined 51 electoral votes) are suddenly being talked about as battleground states instead of surefire red states. McCain can't afford to lose any of them, and Romney's not going to help.
- It's too safe. McCain's trailing in the nationwide polls. He needs something between now and November that's going to energize undecided voters or possibly sway some Obama voters. Mitt Romney isn't going to do that. It's the political equivalent of calling a bunch of short running plays in order to grind out the clock in football. Sure it works when you're ahead. But McCain isn't ahead. He needs some trick plays.