Romney mulling his VP options, understanding importance and timing of the choice

Even the best Vice Presidential candidates can’t win you an election.

On the other hand, a bad candidate can certainly help you lose one.

It’s a lesson Mitt Romney is hoping to avoid learning the hard way as the August Republican Convention draws closer.

As this article from Real Clear Politics notes, the timing of Romney’s running mate announcement is crucial.

In 2008, Sarah Palin threw a tidal wave of cold water on Barack Obama’s columned convention in Denver, even though Obama’s speech was widely considered one of the best political speeches in recent memory.

Had Palin been more thoroughly vetted, or had she been a little more up to date on policy, John McCain may have been able to ride the Palin wave to a shocking victory.

After all, it was Palin who took McCain from down and out to leader in the polls.

The enthusiasm for her candidacy hardened tea party supporters, although that phrase hadn’t become part of the country’s vernacular just yet.

It also brought out support from conservative women who had been mostly unnoticed in the political world, although they do make up a sizable portion of the Republican base.

When McCain picked Palin out of relative obscurity, the political pundits were wondering if there was a candidate out there who could energize the GOP and reverse the momentum Obama had created.

In other words, no one knew Palin would have this kind of effect before McCain picked her.

We’re now concerned about the same problem facing Mitt Romney. Is there a candidate out there who can energize the voters into supporting a vanilla candidate like Romney?

The better question may be, is there a Sarah Palin moment out there for Mitt Romney?

Last month, USA Today looked at polling data to find out who would have the most support among the favorites in the VP race.

One poll had Florida Sen. Marco Rubio leading the way, while another had former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ahead.

Of course, these polls are all about name recognition and people know Rice and Rick Santorum, a big reason the two likely did so well in these polls.

Santorum doesn’t have the juice to energize this campaign because he’s seen as so caustic to independent voters.

On the other hand, the tea party movement strongly supports Marco Rubio, while the average independent Republican voters (also known as people who don’t watch Fox News), have little to no idea who Rubio is.

Whether or not Rice has too much of President George W. Bush’s stain on her is a question, but she could certainly make this an interesting race for minority voters (no pun intended).

Rice may actually be the ideal choice in some ways because she has considerable experience and is much more appealing as a person than Santorum or most any other experienced “old white Republican” you could throw up there.

Rubio is the remaining choice and appears to be the front-runner although he, like Palin, hasn’t been vetted as a leader and a politician.

He does appear regularly on cable news channels and is much more eloquent in articulating conservative arguments than Palin could ever dream of being, but how he’ll do on a campaign remains to be seen.

Rubio does have the ability to help deliver the crucial voters in Florida, as well as the potential to bring out the Latino voters in western states like Colorado that Obama carried in 2008.

Both seem to have their positives and negatives, but can either deliver the punch Romney needs to take down Obama? We’ll have to wait and see.

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