So much of the commentary on the airwaves today revolves around the Republican flavor of the week candidate. Romney was up last week; Santorum is up this week and who knows what next week will bring us.
And yet, folks overlook what I think is the really fascinating race that is percolating just beneath the surface of our national consciousness: The race to become the Republican nominee for Vice President. The United States Senate is comprised of 100 men and women who all believe they ought to be president, yet most shrug of any notion of being picked as the running mate on the ticket.
Take Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), for example. At first glance, he would seem to have it all: Compelling life story, former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, beautiful family, etc. Yet, sources I’ve spoken to who are close with Rubio say that he isn’t interest in running as vice president and doesn’t want to be considered to do so. His rationale is that his roots are in Florida, his family is in Florida and he made a commitment to serve his full six-year term in office.
At the same time, how could Rubio not be selected for all of the reasons I’ve articulated, above? Presuming that Gov. Romney is the eventual nominee, wouldn’t he need someone who could inoculate him from charges of being a Johnny Come Lately to the cause of conservatism? Rubio’s ties to the conservative party and Tea Party movement are impeccable and unassailable. Also given that Hispanic voters will be key either to President Obama’s re-election or a Republican victory, wouldn’t having a rising star who also happens to be of Cuban descent a nice touch to a winning ticket?
As an admirer of Senator Rubio, I hope he’s our pick to stand a heartbeat away from the presidency. Once you take away Rubio, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Senator John Thune (R-SD), our bench is a bit short at this point.
As for President Obama, don’t believe the “Draft Hillary” talk that zings through cyberspace about replacing Joe Biden as the VP candidate. I think the President felt confident that he made the right pick in 2008 - while selecting Hillary would energize the democratic base, he will need Biden in crucial states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia – states he must carry to be re-elected.
So next time you hear someone asking you to handicap the race for president in November, challenge them to put their cards on the table as to who the next vice president will be. A far more complex and interesting question to watch as the campaign season now unfolds in earnest.