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VP choices come with varying hurdles

Posted: April 23, 2012 6:55 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2012 5:00 a.m.

With the search for Mitt Romney’s running mate officially getting underway, an old name has resurfaced that may leave some voters with a sour stomach.

Being considered among those at the top of the Republican nominee’s list for potential vice presidents is none other than former president George W. Bush’s younger brother, Jeb.

Depending on your political persuasion, that possibility could be a blessing or a nightmare.

Early in the 2012 campaign, George W. said his brother would make an excellent president one day. Following that logic, he undoubtedly thinks his brother would be a top-notch VP choice as well.

While George W. has been relatively quiet about this year’s election, it’s reasonable to believe he would recommend that Romney pick his brother as his No. 2.

But conservative columnist George Will recently pointed out that if Jeb becomes Romney’s VP, it would mean that in seven of the last nine presidential elections there would be a Bush on the ticket.

He even joked on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that if the former Massachusetts governor settles on Jeb, then it would be “hard to argue that we’re not a tribal society at this point.”

Will suggested Romney take a closer look at House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, two young, up-and-coming GOPers.

But would picking Jeb Bush really be such a bad decision?

From looking at the current political landscape, it seems like it would be.

Stepping away from Bush’s political stances and track record as Florida’s governor, tying Romney with anyone named Bush seems like a bad idea, or more accurately, tying Romney with any Bush under the age of 85 looks bad.

George’s and Jeb’s father, “Bush 41,” endorsed the Republican nominee with understandably zero backlash.

But George W.’s presidency is still largely in the memories of the American voting public. If the Republican Party wants to win in November, it should remember that “Bush 43” left office with an approval rating below 30 percent.

Throwing that name in with a nominee who already polls low in likeability equals a recipe for disaster.

Romney and his backers should focus on someone who comes across as both intelligent and affable (and not named Bush).

Jindal and Ryan exhibit both traits, but also come with minor impediments.

Jindal will be forever tied to his overly folksy response to an Obama State of the Union Address in 2009. The Louisiana governor has even been compared to a Howdy Doody-like character, while Romney exhibits too much of a “Father Knows Best” image.

Would today’s voters really turn out for a Romney-Jindal ticket? Teaming those two up would be too much of a throwback to a 1950s era simplicity, although Jindal, as a minority, can represent change.

But while their personalities may work for older, more conservative voters, it likely wouldn’t mix well for younger, independent voters eager for success in the complicated 21st century. 

Ryan, however, can come across as more of a Midwestern wunderkind. However, his push for a major (and to some, destructive) change to entitlements, particularly Medicare, could spell doom for Romney.

For Romney to win, he’ll likely need to shy away from pouncing on any health care reform programs during the campaign in light of his so-called Romney-care.

But Ryan may be the perfect mix of crafty political sense and youthful energy needed to give Romney a spark.

The Republican nominee should definitely not go with some kind of a “game change.” He doesn’t need a VP choice like Sarah Palin in 2008 or Dan Quayle in 1988.

Any unproven pick would immediately draw question marks to Romney’s judgment.

Although only 42 years old, Ryan has been in Congress since 1999 and is in charge of one of the most important committees in Washington.

Picking Ryan wouldn’t be the safest choice, but it wouldn’t be the riskiest either. Whichever way Romney decides, it’ll give voters a glimpse into his decision-making skills.

But as the decision time creeps closer, I would suggest the Republican nominee listen to George’s advice. That’s Will by the way, not Bush.     

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