(Providence, Rhode Island) – There are just six weeks until the Republican National Convention and seven until the Democratic National Convention. We’re getting close to the meat of the political season. Here are some thoughts:
“Rice-a-Romney!” – Since Condoleezza Rice has spent a substantial portion of her career in the San Francisco Bay area, I couldn’t resist a play-on-words with the old Rice-a-Roni dish that was made famous there! That said, I think all the rumors this week that she will be Mitt Romney’s running mate are overblown. Her biggest asset is that she has the experience to step in and be President on day one, should something happen to Romney. Some of the other GOP contenders are a bit thin on experience (as was Senator Obama). Her experience aside, Rice has never been on a ballot; so there is no certainty she will pull in significant numbers of women and minorities, which is what Romney needs to win.
“On the Other Hand” – The other VP rumor this week was that the real top contenders are former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and current Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman. Sure! Pawlenty could help Romney win Iowa and Minnesota, and Portman could help shore up Ohio. But beyond that I don’t see them helping Romney elsewhere. Winning those three states will not put Romney in the White House. Plus it would be another “two white guys” ticket, and the GOP probably needs to do something more along the lines of bold and different. I still say the nominee will be Senator Marco Rubio (R) Florida, Governor Susanna Martinez (R) New Mexico, or Governor Brian Sandoval (R) Nevada.
“Bush League” – Another problem for both Rice and Portman is their long ties to President George W. Bush, one of the least popular Presidents in modern times. Romney probably needs to keep his distance from Bush, especially among independent swing voters. Again, “new and different” will trump “same old, same old,” in my analysis.
“Reverse Coattails” – In Presidential politics, we sometimes talk about the “coattail effect,” when a candidate for the White House proves so popular he helps lower-tier candidates for the House, Senate, etc. One of the most memorable examples was when Ronald Reagan’s “coattails” swept Republicans into control of the U.S. Senate in 1980. This year, five of the eleven toss-up, battleground states also have U.S. Senate races that are considered too close to call. Those states are Florida, Missouri, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin. Wins by Republican Senate candidates in those states could have a reverse coattail effect and help Romney. They could also mean Republicans taking control of the U.S. Senate. On the other hand, if President Obama simply wins Florida, he wins the White House, coattails or not.
“Battleground: Virginia” – Each week from now until the election, I will dissect one battleground state and talk about its significance. Virginia used to be a lock for Republicans until Obama won it in 2008. Prior to that, the last time it went for Democrats was in 1964. Virginia is really two states: the Washington, D.C., suburbs, which are Democratic strongholds, and the rest of the state, which is solidly Republican. The growth of the Federal Government over the years has ballooned the D.C. suburban area from Arlington and Alexandria all the way to Leesburg, forty miles away. That growth has put many more Democrats in this traditionally GOP state. With a tight Senate race this year, Virginia is a state that is wide open for both the White House and for control of the U.S. Senate. Keep a close eye on it!
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