With exactly one year out from the national party conventions, I feel pretty confident that I can make two predictions on the vice presidential selection process.
First the Democrats: Unless something extraordinary happens with the vice pPresident’s health or if polling suggest that he becomes a major drag on the ticket, Joe Biden will remain the Democratic ticket. The main reason being is that he has done nothing politically stupid and despite the usual verbal gaffes that are known characteristics of Joe Biden, sources tell me that he has been a very loyal defender of the president’s policies.
Biden even acts as the “elder statesman” in meetings since he typically is the oldest and most politically seasoned person in the room. I am also led to believe through other sources that under no circumstances will President Obama swap the ticket by putting Biden at the State Department and place Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the number two spot.
The Republican side is a bit more interesting. The obvious being that we have no idea who the Republicans will nominate in Tampa a year from now, but all bets are on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to bring in more money and present more muscle than his political competitors. Michelle Bachmann seems much too marginalized; Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and the rest of the GOP field do not seem to be gaining much traction. The only real competition is from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the jury is still out in respect to his prospects.
For all of these reasons, Romney is the man to beat.
If he does become the nominee, my hunch is that a young good-looking freshman senator from Florida will be at the top of his vice presidential short list. Who might that be? Sen. Marco Rubio. Rubio has repeatedly said that he has no interest in serving on a national ticket.
In fact, he opens up all of his political speeches these days with the familiar line, “I have no interest in serving as vice president for anyone who could possibly live all eight years of the presidency,” Rubio said at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., eliciting laughter from the packed audience a few days ago.
I’ll remind the reader of this column, that then-Senator Biden made similar comments when he dropped out of the presidential race in 2007 and Dick Cheney dismissed the vice presidency in 2000 when asked if he would serve.
Dismissing the vice presidency when asked by the national press corps has become a right of passage. Every candidate dismisses the job, and everyone who is asked, always accepts. I still believe that Rubio will be on the nominee’s short list. Here’s why: He’s from Florida.
Every political observer knows that winning Florida is a must for any Republican nominee and Rubio having recently run statewide and winning in that state, it’s too much to pass up.
Secondly, Rubio being from Cuban descent adds diversity to a ticket that will be running against an African American. With a Hispanic on the ticket, the immigration issue could be neutralized and it also sets up a personal succession plan for the Republican Party in 2016.
In other words, it’s a win-win for the Republican Party. If they win in 2012 they will have a minority on the national ticket for the next four and possibly eight years. Rubio on the ticket also brings many Hispanics and Latinos to the Republican Party.
It also doesn’t hurt that Rubio is young, a darling of the tea party — a wing of the Republican Party that has always been skeptical of Mitt Romney.
Rubio is young and untested and that will raise some eyebrows with some of the party and political establishment. After only being in the Senate for a little more than a year (at the time of his vice presidential selection, if he is selected), many will say that he is much too inexperienced to be vice president.
Normally I would say yes, but Rubio is such a unique political figure that he could very well beat the odds. Just like another young, handsome senator who was a minority who had dreams to go further — Barack Obama in circa 2006. Stay tuned.