Republican VP Candidates

Despite Keith’s wise admonition, many Republican leaning (or formerly R-leaning) voters have resigned themselves to the fact that Sen. John McCain will be the Republican nominee for Election 2008. That does not sit well with more than a few. Personally, since Fred! dropped out I’ve seen little reason to go on with life had little interest in how the remaining candidates shake out, except for praying that Huckabee does not get the nomination.

However, since there are really only four candidates left (or three if you accept McCain as a fait accompli), then it might make sense to start looking at potential VP candidates. Perhaps, with the right running-mate, one of the otherwise embarrassingly similar candidates will stand out from the rest. Of course, I can’t imagine that the candidates will give anyone a nod until they truly are the nominee, but that shouldn’t stop us from contemplating the possibilities. I’ll do the Republicans first, and then the Democrats in a separate post.

Instead of rattling off different pairings, I’m simply going to name some people who I think could convince me to vote for one of the potential Republican candidates. In no particular order:

Matt Blunt(1) Gov. Matt Blunt, Missouri: Governor Blunt is well-heeled politically in that he is the son of House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, and he has previously received some campaign support from Karl Rove. He is also Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve who went on active duty following 9/11, serving a six-month tour of duty in Great Britain during Operation Enduring Freedom, while also continuing his full-time job as Missouri’s Secretary of State. At age 37 (elected when he was 33) Blunt is also the second youngest governor ever elected, behind just Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

Blunt’s most endearing quality, in my view, is that he received the Cato Institute’s top grade for all governors in 2006:

Republican Governor Matt Blunt of Missouri earns the highest score on the Cato Institute’s eighth biennial fiscal policy report card released today. Out of 46 governors reviewed, Blunt is the only governor this year to receive the grade of A for cutting his state’s budget, eliminating hundreds of government jobs and restraining Medicaid spending.

[Note that Huckabee received an F in that report]. To recap, Blunt is a fiscal conservative from a populous mid-west/border state, an active duty naval officer, and a governor with executive experience who received Cato Institute’s highest marks in 2006.

Whether he ran with McCain or Romney, I think Blunt would be a good pick. He’s not as well known as many others, but at least in the midwest he would have some name recognition, and that may be where the most contentious states are.

His negatives, other than low name recognition, include the fact that he’s not overly popular in his home state and because of his support for stem cell research he’s been branded an ex-Pro-life candidate by Missouri Right to Life.

Mark Sanford(2) Gov. Mark Sanford, South Carolina: Another young governor, at age 47, Sanford has built a solid reputation as a fighter of pork, even going so far as to herd live pigs into the state House of Representatives to protest legislative giveaways. When he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he actually turned down pork for his own district, and kept his promise to only serve three terms. He was also noted for often being the one of only two congressman to vote against bills that otherwise passed unanimously — the other was Ron Paul.

From Wikipedia’s description:

Sanford professes to be a firm supporter of limited government, and many pundits have described his views as being libertarian in nature. There are several Internet based groups trying to convince him to run for president in 2008. Most recently, he has embarked on an ambitious plan to reform methods of funding the state’s public education system. This would include measures such as school vouchers — aimed at introducing more competition into the school system as a means of fostering improvement. This would also allow more choice for parents who wish for their children to be educated in a religious or independent setting easier access at doing so. The plan, known as “Put Parents In Charge,” would provide around $2,500 per child to parents who chose to withdraw their children from the state’s public school system and instead send them to religious and other independent schools. Sanford has framed this plan as a necessary market based reform.

Also, although Sanford did not receive the highest grade from Cato in 2006 (when Matt Blunt garnered the only A), he did receive the next highest score:

Republicans Rick Perry of Texas and Mark Sanford of South Carolina are the next two highest scoring governors, receiving B’s for their solid commitments to keeping taxes and spending burdens low throughout their entire terms.

In short, Mark Sanford is another young Governor who brings executive experience and the potential to deliver southern voters to whomever’s ticket he graces. He also a staunch fiscal conservative with an independent streak and a demonstrated commitment to reining in pork spending, while also seeking market based reforms for problems routinely reserved for government, such as in education. He also received Cato’s second highest score in 2006 for his stewardship of South Carolina. Oh, and he voted with Ron Paul on a number of bills while he was in the House.

Sanford’s biggest negative is that he is almost entirely unknown amongst the general electorate. In addition, his independent streak and willingness to clash with his party over budgetary issues may make him unpopular amongst the Republican elite. Being paired with John McCain, and thus having two maverick’s on the same ticket, could spell disaster for the administration should they get elected. By the same token, he may be a good complement to Romney.

Mitch Daniels(3) Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indiana: Governor Daniels is the oldest of my picks, but still plenty young enough at 58. He is very well-connected politically, having served under President Bush (43) as Director of the OMB and as a member of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council. At the OMB, Daniels became known for doggedly pursuing cuts in social spending, and he “instituted a first-of-its-kind accountability system for all governmental entities.”

As governor, Daniels sought to rein in spending by the Indiana legislature and even pushed through a proposal to privatize the Indian Toll Road. His brightest accomplishment may be that he recently succeeded in getting meaningful tax reform approved:

In 2008, “Daniels proposed one percent cap of assessed home value would be instituted as the highest yearly property tax on homes. Property tax ceilings would be two percent for rental properties and three percent for businesses. The move would be permanent, making Indiana one of the lowest property tax states in the country,” according to Connersville News-Examiner reporter Seth T. Whitecotton. The plan was approved by the Indiana Congress with minor changes, locking in low rates for homeowners, businesses, and rental properties.

Gov. Daniels does have some daunting negatives, the foremost of which is the Democratic campaign fodder that he was in charge of the OMB when it saw a $236 Billion surplus turn into a $400 Billion deficit. Whether that can be laid it his (or anyone else’s) feet or not, the charge would become routine from the Democratic nominee. He also was not afraid to propose tax increases on the wealthy (albeit modest ones), as well as a $0.25 increase to Indiana’s cigarette taxes. Perhaps the most controversial thing about Daniels, however, is that he not only served as chief executive of the conservative Hudson Institute, but that he was also a Senior Vice President at pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. His connections to Eli Lilly are most often cited when accusing Daniels of inserting the “Midnight Rider” into the Homeland Security Act, which rider protected the pharmaceutical company from law suits pertaining to thiomersal.

In sum, Governor Daniels has plenty of helpful political connections, brings executive experience to the table, has demonstrated a willingness to push through controversial tax legislation, and he oversaw a “first-of-its-kind” accountability program while Director of the OMB. His negatives may be tough to overcome, however, as he would likely be tagged from the outset as a neoconservative insider, with Big Pharma connections, hell bent on screwing the poor to help his rich buddies. Paired with John McCain, he may at least bring some credibility to the campaign’s promises of fiscal conservatism and government accountability, and Daniels could help deliver in those crucial mid-west states. As running mate to Romney, Daniels adds a bit of true conservative tinge to the Massachusetts governor’s rather bland credentials.

So there are my three picks. I tried to select people who: (a) had executive experience, (b) had fiscally conservative credentials, (c) had socially liberal or, at least, non-conservative marks, (d) were younger, (e) were either finishing or close to finishing their current terms this year, and (f) came from the south or midwest.

Feel free to snipe at my picks, or to leave your own in the comments.

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13 Responses to “Republican VP Candidates”

  1. on 31 Jan 2008 at 7:07 am Keith_Indy

    You keep your hands off our Mitch!

    While far from perfect, he’s managed to do a lot of good for Indiana, and I’d like to keep it that way.

  2. on 31 Jan 2008 at 8:06 am Roland Dodds

    I personally think its going to be Sanford, so I am happy to see he is making someone else’s short list. Everyone recognizes that McCain is going to need a young conservative to keep the base happy and not sit out November, and I think Sanford is the best pick.

  3. on 31 Jan 2008 at 9:28 am ChrisB

    Keith touches on something I was thinking of while reading the list. Can’t these people do more where they’re at right now, than as the empty job of VP?

  4. on 31 Jan 2008 at 9:51 am MichaelW

    Keith: Think of The ChildrenTM!

    Roland: Sanford is probably my top pick as well, although I do wonder if his maverick reputation combined with McCain’s would be more harmful than helpful.

    Chris: They may do more good for their individual states except for the fact that Blunt’s term ends this year and he’s not running again, and Sanford’s term limited (up in 2010). And apparently Keith won’t let Daniels go, so that’s that.

  5. on 31 Jan 2008 at 10:25 am bains

    If the nominee is McCain, the problem he’ll have is getting a real conservative to sign on. I would imagine all three governors listed here, and many unlisted, would request, perhaps even demand, that McCain keep his campaign pledges. Imagine the mud on their face when after strenuously campaigning that McCain would not raise taxes, President McCain raises taxes after all. Or promising not to grant amnesty by any other name, grants amnesty none-the-less. Not good for their political career.

  6. on 31 Jan 2008 at 12:35 pm Keith_Indy

    Mitch Daniels is the only politician I’ve met who doesn’t make me want to wipe my hand off when he shakes it. He doesn’t have the smarmy used-car salesman vibe either. He isn’t one to say things because people want to here it, or because it will get him elected. (Check that, Giulliani didn’t have that vibe either when I saw him during his book tour.)

    And I am thinking of the children, Indiana’s children. ;)

    I’ve been meaning to do a post on Indiana’s insurance program. Been hearing ad’s on tv and radio for it. Sounds like it has some things going for it that other, more expansive programs do not. Everyone says it’s novel, but there isn’t enough time yet to develop cost effectiveness data on it.

  7. on 01 Feb 2008 at 2:33 pm Tanker J.D.

    Gov. Blunt announced last week that he won’t run for re-election. So, there’s no concern about stripping him away from his locality. It’s not clear, though, why he won’t run for the Governorship again. He cites family reasons and rumor has it his wife doesn’t like public life. Perhaps, though, is all backroom stuff, and his Dad has already secured a commitment from someone to give him the tap.

  8. on 12 Feb 2008 at 2:38 pm Norma Parker

    The only V.P. that could persuade us to vote Republican this year is governor Mitt Romney

  9. on 01 Mar 2008 at 10:43 pm Keith Daniels

    Haley Barbour, Mississippi’s governor would be a great asset as VP for McCain. He’s been involved with Reagan repub’s for years as Chair of the RNC and has recieved high marks rebuilging Mississippi following Katrina.

  10. on 07 May 2008 at 12:33 pm P Fields

    Mitt Romney is the only VP candidate that that will keep me voting Republican this year.

  11. on 03 Jun 2008 at 6:04 pm walt

    Colin Powell is your man. Forget the rest.  Think about it.

  12. on 03 Jun 2008 at 7:38 pm MichaelW

    You’re not the first person to make that suggestion, Walt, and I agree it’s a good one.  I read his book back in the 90’s and liked it a lot.  He’s a much more libertarian-minded fellow that probably most people know, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to make sure his soldiers are taken care of.


    Be that as it may, I also have had the impression for several years that Powell is more than a little reticent to subject himself and (likely more importantly) his family to the kind of scrutiny that comes with running for the second-on-command position of the country, much less the first.

    If it came down to McCain/Powell vs. Obama/(Richardson? Clinton? Clarke?), I’d certainly give the McCain ticket a more favorable look.

  13. on 06 Jun 2008 at 6:54 am tania

    RUDY GULLIANI… I voted for him.  he was so popular and “great NY Mayor”.  the way
    he handled 911 for new yorkers and all the nation was beyond his calling.  i dont understand why he was not elected for republican candidate.  i’m republican all the way. will vote for mccain, but would love to see GULLIANI as VP… freedom!  not economy is my main concern…

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