The New York Times reports today that Romney has already selected his No. 2 and could announce his pick as soon as this week. The story comes on the heels of last week’s report on Matt Drudge’s website that said former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had jumped to the top of Romney’s list.
In the past month, Rice and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty have become the two big movers in the veepstakes race, with. early frontrunners like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman dropping to the middle of the pack.
Meanwhile, most voters still barely even know who any of these candidates are.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the current VP standings, with their current InTrade odds.
Tim Pawlenty, Former Minnesota Governor (Intrade odds: 27.5 percent)
Courtesy of CBS
WHY HE’LL BE VP: Pawlenty’s stock has spiked about 7 percent on Intrade in the last month. Pawlenty was briefly considered the frontrunner for the nomination when he declared his candidacy last May, and the New York Times his chances as the No. 2 have been rising. For one, he has Romney’s ear. He has no other full-time obligations like the other candidates, and he could be a good balance of a candidate with Romney. Politico recently tapped him as the guy who can provide the “regular-guy, working-man connection with voters in casual settings.”
WHY HE WON’T BE: The Star-Tribune pointed out the one word that usually follows his name: “boring.”John McCain passed over Pawlenty as a potential VP pick in 2008 in favor of another rising governor. The difference between Pawlenty and Sarah Palin is that Pawlenty is a rather bland candidate that might struggle to fire up the base — similar to Portman, but not thought of as highly among Republican brass. Pawlenty also doesn’t have geography in his favor: Minnesota is likely staying blue with or without his name on the Republican ticket.
Rob Portman, Ohio Senator (25.5 percent)
WHY HE’LL BE VP: Portman is widely thought of as the safe pick. Republicans like him because they think he’s a good candidate. At the same time, he’s not very controversial and wouldn’t be an overpowering No. 2 like Palin. Unlike Pawlenty, Portman also happens to hail from the important swing state of Ohio, where Republicans think he could make a difference in November.
He’s also a respected voice who can hit Obama on the federal deficit, which has consistently been one of the top two or three issues on voters’ minds heading into the election. He was head of the OMB under President George W. Bush, and was on the debt ceiling “supercommittee” last year. In February, he released an analysis on the fiscal irresponsibility of the Obama administration.
WHY HE WON’T BE: The “boring” or “vanilla” factor also works against Portman — even his own constituents don’t know who he is. Public Policy Polling found that 37 percent of Ohioans have no opinion on his work as a Senator. It also found that he doesn’t really help Romney there — Obama’s lead in the swing state actually goes up a point with Portman on the ticket. And an astounding 62 percent of Americans do not know who Portman is, according to a Gallup poll released yesterday.
This obscurity presents a problem, because the Obama campaign would inevitably tie Portman to the economic policies of President George W. Bush. Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod offered a preview in late April of how the campaign will hit Portman:
“The challenge with Senator Portman, is that Senator Portman was one of the architects of the last administration’s budget policies,” Axelrod said.
“And it’s just one more sign—if he does that,” Axelrod added of Romney picking him as the vice presidential nominee, “that he wants to go back to those policies.”
Marco Rubio, Florida Senator (8.2 percent)
WHY HE’LL BE VP: Until mid-June, Rubio was far and away the front-runner in the Romney veepstakes, despite multiple denials of wanting the job. He’s young, Hispanic, and he can energize the base. In short, he’s the GOP’s Golden Boy.
WHY HE WON’T BE: Is Marco Rubio the next Sarah Palin? Moving past the “wow” factor, it’s easy to see some of the same things in Rubio today that Republican leaders saw in Palin at this time in 2008. A major theme in the Mitt Romney campaign is his experience—particularly in the private-sector business area, and Marco Rubio has none of that. Plus, a new poll in Florida showed that Rubio wouldn’t have much of an effect in the state.
John Thune, South Dakota Senator (6.3 percent)
WHY HE’LL BE VP: Another big riser over the past couple of months is Thune, whose conservative reputation was built after he defeated Senate Democratic Majority Leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota in 2004. A recent U.S. News poll found that he was among the top three candidates chosen for VP by top Republican strategists. The Fiscal Times wrote last month that he passes the “could-he-be-President?” test, which is a key element of Romney’s litmus test.
Newt Gingrich told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in an epic episode of Hardball in May that Thune was “extraordinarily attractive”— as a vice presidential candidate, that is.
WHY HE WON’T BE: He’s a senator from a largely conservative, non-swing state with nothing especially significant to offer to the ticket — McCain reportedly didn’t choose Thune because he didn’t have any “game-changing” qualities. Thune voted for TARP and he did a brief stint as a lobbyist, both of which scream the “Washington insider”-type — which is not the image Romney is trying to project of himself.
Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State (6 percent)
WHY SHE’LL BE VP: Rice is the latest rising star of the veepstakes, after the Drudge report (on The Drudge Report). I made the case for her as a good choice last week, and now others like The Boston Herald are starting to, as well. And here’s why: Everyone loves her. For starters, a poll of Republicans in April tabbed her as their preferred vice presidential pick. By comparison, Portman received less than one half of 1 percent in the same poll.
She’s also a likable candidate, with an overall favorability rating at 71 percent. She has spoken out against harsh immigration laws, which could help with Latino voters, and she has traveled around recently promoting education reform with former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. Most importantly, perhaps, she adds foreign policy experience to the ticket, helping Romney in an area where Obama has a distinct advantage.
WHY SHE WON’T BE: The Bush alliance. Romney has so far avoided the stigma of the George W. Bush administration, and he might not want to open up his ticket to someone who had such a high-profile tie to his administration. However, if voters have already made up their minds about her, she’s actually a much safer pick than someone else from the Bush administration, namely Portman.
She’s also described herself as “moderately pro-choice,” which wouldn’t win the enthusiasm of evangelical voters.
Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Congressman (4.7 percent)
WHY HE’LL BE VP: Since 2010, Ryan has stood alongside Rubio as a young darling of the Republican Party. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan has taken the lead in hammering President Obama on the federal debt, and his voice will only get louder within the party as the dreaded “fiscal cliff” approaches. The Wisconsin recall election also helped boost Ryan’s VP prospects by putting Wisconsin in play as a possible swing state. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pumped up Ryan’s VP credentials last week, saying “there’s nobody better in terms of knowing the budget.”
WHY HE WON’T BE: Running on Ryan’s budget is actually a pretty big risk, with the potential for political suicide. The budget offers little specifics and drastically reforms Medicare. Back in 2011, when Ryan first proposed a version of his budget, Democrats used it to score a surprising victory in an upstate New York special election. Ryan has also said that he believes he can be more helpful to Romney in his current position as House Budget Chair.
Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Governor (4.5 percent)
WHY HE’LL BE VP: As we pointed out after his keynote speech at the New York Republican state dinner in April, Jindal has been sounding awfully vice presidential. He’s young, charismatic and a diverse candidate with an Indian-American background and a proven ability to win over blue-collar conservative voters.
Jindal also signed one of the most significant state education reforms in recent memory this year, and has been the Romney campaign’s go-to surrogate on education reform. He also would be an attractive option for Romney among social conservatives, for his hard-line stances against abortion and same-sex marriage.
WHY HE WON’T BE: Jindal is most known on a national stage for his spectacularly awful Republican response speech to the State of the Union in 2009. He also hasn’t won over everyone with his education reform, and he holds the dubious distinction of being governor of the state with the country’s highest prison population. There’s also questions of whether he can bring in moderates and Independent voters to the ticket — one political scientist described him to Business Insider as another potentially Sarah Palin-esque pick.
Chris Christie, New Jersey Governor (1.7 percent)
Courtesy of ABC
WHY HE’LL BE VP: People view Christie as the anti-politician, the “straight talker” who “tells it like it is.” He’s a campaign “bulldog” that could most effectively hammer Obama. A good example of this came last week when he called the Medicaid expansion of the Affordable Care Act a form of “extortion.” Public Policy Polling found in April that he helps Romney the most as the second name on the ticket — more than Rubio or Ryan. He is also viewed favorably by 50 percent of New Jersey.
WHY HE WON’T BE: Christie has denied interest in the role, perhaps more than any other potential VP pick, and even mentioning his lack of interest in a talked-about video with Newark Mayor Cory Booker. He also hasn’t been making the best impression, showing up late to events with Romney. Christie has recently started to open up to the idea of the position, but his InTrade stock has fallen more than 4 percent in the past month.
Another problem for Christie is the recent New York Times report on a Newark halfway house run by a company with deep ties to Christie. The investigation found that there is little state oversight of the company, and that 1,300 inmates have escaped since Christie took office.
Also, he almost got into a fight on the Jersey Shore boardwalk recently.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington Rep. (1.5 percent)
AP Photo/Harry Hamburg
WHY SHE’LL BE VP: Republican insiders have pegged McMorris Rodgers as a female candidate who is the anti-Palin and the anti-Michele Bachmann. She could set the tone on issues without being too polarizing. In June, Romney tapped her as the campaign’s “point person” in the House.
She also has the kind of blue-collar backstory that Mitt Romney’s campaign would love to push. McMorris Rodgers was the first member of her family to attend college, and entered Washington state’s House of Representatives by the age of 24. She has given birth—twice—while serving in Congress, the only woman ever to do so.
WHY SHE WON’T BE: There is one glaring similarity between McMorris Rodgers today and Palin 2008: Both are untested on the national stage and have spent their careers hidden in the Pacific Northwest. There is also speculation that McMorris Rodgers might be pushing herself for the job; the Washington Postreported last month that an aide had emailed reporters to “keep my boss” in mind.
Brian Sandoval, Nevada Governor (0.3 percent)
WHY HE’LL BE VP: Sandoval has Mexican roots, which makes him more likely to actually appeal to Hispanic voters in many swing states than the Cuban-American Rubio. Nevada also happens to be a legitimate swing state in this election, with six electoral votes that Romney would love to earn.
Early polls showed that Sandoval makes a difference in his home state. Sandoval, a former federal judge, and he is popular with his constituents—46 percent approve of his job performance, while only 31 percent do not. So we’re still somewhat more bullish than the market on Sandoval.
WHY HE WON’T BE: He makes absolutely no qualms about being pro-choice — he’s more open about it than Condi Rice, who has already faced backlash. Economic conservatives like tax-hound Grover Norquist are also not fans of Sandoval. Norquist called him a “rat” earlier this year after he extended 2009 tax increases he previously said he would eliminate. And Sandoval is has been touting Nevada’s economic recovery in Nevada, something that awkwardly clashes with Romney’s message.
Rand Paul, Kentucky Senator (0.3 percent)
Gage Skidmore via Flikr
WHY HE’LL BE VP: Paul fueled speculation when he endorsed Romney and subsequently told CNN that it would be an “honor” to run alongside him. He’s a Tea Party favorite, and may also be able to convince some more moderate Paulites to support Mitt Romney. It would also work for Romney because it might convince Ron Paul to disavow any disruptions at the Republican convention in August.
WHY HE WON’T BE: As a former doctor elected to the Senate in the tea-party wave of 2010, Rand Paul doesn’t have a lot of the experience factor on his side. He might be an election cycle or two away from such a major position. Plus, there’s the backlash that Paulites gave the younger Paul after his endorsement of Romney, which indicates that most of them may not be of any use to Romney after all.