I Was Wrong About Romney’s VP Pick

If media reports are accurate, Mitt Romney is set to announce his vice presidential pick today at 8:45 a.m. (E.T.) during a morning campaign event in Virginia.  Based on twitter feeds, the early betting indicates that Paul Ryan is the choice.  If Romney does announce Ryan as his pick today, this will be the earliest announcement – as measured by the number of days before the candidate’s party convention – of  a vice presidential choice by any presidential candidate, with the exception of John Kerry in 2004, dating back to 1976.  I’ll have much more to say about this later today, but for now I would point out that Ryan – if he’s the pick – has some of the strengths I mentioned regarding Rob Portman: he’s a Washington insider with deep knowledge of budget politics.  In short, he’s Portman, but with the pizazz that Portman – and Tim Pawlenty – lack. If Ryan is the pick, Republican conservatives are going to be very very pleased. As an added plus for Romney, Ryan might make Wisconsin competitive. But I do find it interesting that Romney felt compelled to announce his VP pick this far in advance of the Republican Party convention. My guess – and it is only a guess – is that his decision was influenced in part by recent national polls suggesting Obama had extended his “lead”. Romney is hoping that by announcing the pick this early, he might capture the media headlines and stem, at least for the moment, the seeming erosion in polling support.  I don’t doubt that Romney’s announcement of his VP pick will dominate media coverage for the next several days (although I do question his decision to announce the pick on a weekend!)  But if history is any guide it won’t have any lasting impact on the 2012 presidential race, beyond a short-term polling bump.  And, for what it is worth (which is next to nothing), Condi Rice was the better choice.  My mistake, however, was not in predicting that Rice would be the choice – it was in arguing that Romney would hold off on announcing his pick until shortly before the Republican convention, as almost all previous candidates have done.

I’ll have more to say on this later today .



  1. I am hearing that the timing of this announcement was caused by an accidental leak, and the Romney campaign was scrambling all last night/early this morning to clean the mess… do you think there could be any truth to this? I mean, what is the logic behind making the announcement on a Saturday morning? And how do you at least not wait until the end of the Olympics before doing this? Doesn’t make much sense to me…

  2. Tom,

    Anything is possible. If news reports are true, Romney decided on Ryan 10 days ago. That’s an eternity in Washington politics in terms of not leaking. So it’s possible this was announced prematurely. The ostensible justification for the Saturday roll-out is that it will lead the Sunday news shows and that Romney will capitalize on viewers turning on their televisions this morning to watch the Olympics and getting introduced to Ryan instead.

  3. Rasmussen was on Fox this morning disputing the idea that Romney is in trouble. The polls showing Obama ahead are eligible voter polls. Rasmussen said his likely voter poll has Romney up by 2.

  4. Dale,

    Despite the media focus on the CNN and Fox polls showing Obama lengthening his support. all the daily tracking polls – Gallup, Rasmussen – have consistently showed the race deadlocked. This is partly why the poll aggregators at RealClearPolitics, TPM and Pollster.com have the race much tighter, despite those individual polls giving Obama a bigger lead. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if Romney was reacting to the media narrative about the polls, if not to the polls themselves.

  5. As more reports come out, we find out more about how this pick unfolded. Indeed Romney made this choice on August 1st. Romney however wanted to announce the pick that Friday in New Hampshire. As fate would have it, however, that was the day of the scheduled funeral for the Wisconsin temple shooting that happened in Ryan’s own district.
    This pick makes three things clear. Number one, Romney wanted to announce this as early as possible. Number two, Romney believed he was in trouble. Number three, Romney insiders believed that they were not making a clear enough alternative to Obama. This is a gutsy choice by Romney, wrought with high risk verses high reward. This shapes the general election into almost what the UK had in 2010. A Labour party that advocates spending our way out of an economic downturn verses a Conservative party who advocates austerity. If the next three jobs reports are bad, Romney will win this argument. If they improve, Obama will. Simple as that.

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