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Republican VP choice should contrast Palin

Posted: January 3, 2012 11:44 a.m.
Updated: January 4, 2012 5:00 a.m.

When John McCain wrapped up the Republican nomination four years ago, one person was reportedly at the top of his vice presidential list -- Sen. Joe Liebermann.

Instead of going with his gut, he went with the advice of his inner circle and picked Sarah Palin, the then unknown governor of Alaska.

The selection of Palin raised eyebrows after she performed so poorly in national interviews, but McCain’s advisers certainly accomplished their goal of throwing a curve ball into the election.

Fast forward to the 2012 election and the eventual nominee of the Republican Party may face the same dilemma. Should he or she pick a known commodity or a relatively unfamiliar name that can draw attention to the GOP candidate?

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte has already been mentioned by presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a potential choice. Her selection would likely provide an interesting contrast with Palin, while also creating somewhat of a buzz.

Ayotte, a first-term senator from the Granite State, may be a potential running mate for the Republican Party, but the party’s nominee should make sure that he or she doesn’t repeat the mistakes from 2008. Ayotte would undoubtedly draw comparisons with Palin if picked as the VP.

When President Obama passed over Hillary Clinton for the role in 2008, the Republicans saw an opening to place a woman on the ticket and attempted to pick off some of Clinton’s supporters after she lost the nomination.

But as more came out about Palin, voters learned that the vetting process by the GOP was fairly incomplete. Reports also indicated that McCain hardly knew the Alaskan governor and voters later found out she had virtually zero foreign policy experience. 

As a freshman senator, Ayotte doesn’t have much experience either, but her résumé draws a particular contrast with Palin, especially when it comes to holding pertinent political offices.

Palin, 47, and Ayotte, 43, took different paths early in their careers and in their respective states. After Ayotte received a degree in political science from Penn State and a law degree from Villanova, she worked as a lawyer and deputy attorney general before being appointed as the state’s first female attorney general in 2004.

Palin attended the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University, North Idaho College, Matanuska-Susitna College and the University of Idaho where she ultimately received a degree in communications.

After working as a local sportscaster, she went on to be a city councilman and a mayor before being elected governor of Alaska in 2006.

Romney, in particular, could energize his overall campaign by selecting a vice presidential nominee who is not the typical middle-aged white guy.

But depending on some perspectives, the senator from the Granite State may not provide that much sizzle, especially to the Romney campaign in the southern states.

Both come from New England, which never is a promising sign, especially for a candidate hoping to gain votes in the South. Also, Ayotte is only a freshman senator, meaning her experience is minimal.

In light of the Palin selection, the eventual Republican nominee will certainly face extra scrutiny when it comes time to pick a VP.

But the ultimate choice could help to not only contrast with Obama and his VP Joe Biden, but also any perceived blunders of the party’s last pick.

The nominee will have to decide, however, if he or she want the same old bland, comfortable decision for the VP slot or someone who will spice up the process.

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