The GOP primary is not over yet, but, with Mitt Romney firmly in control of the race, it isn’t too soon to begin asking: Who might he select as his running mate? I recently asked about a dozen Republican insiders who they would want to see on a ticket with Romney. (A couple balked at the notion that Romney was a lock for the nomination, but most agreed it was a logical assumption.) The most striking thing that emerged from these conversations was that some Republicans are a lot more excited about the vice presidential choices than about the presidential ones.
Take a moment to imagine the following GOP presidential field: two popular, former big-state governors (one a former U.S. Treasury secretary, the other a hero of the conservative movement), two Hall of Fame senators (one of them a former vice-presidential nominee, the other a future White House chief of staff), a former CIA director, ambassador, and party chair, and a couple of miscellaneous House members. Not bad, right? That’s your Republican candidate field in 1980: Ronald Reagan, John Connally, Howard Baker, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, John Anderson, and Phil Crane.
As soon as news leaked that Chris Christie was going to say (again) that he wasn’t running for president, the press immediately began beating itself up for paying any attention to the drama in New Jersey.
For months now, some pundits have been certain that Mitt Romney was doomed because of his record on health care. And yet Romney has outlasted Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, and John Thune, and he’s still going strong. Not as strong, perhaps, as Rick Perry. And yet Perry, too, has an apparent fatal skeleton.
They rolled out of Washington in the dead of night. But the Huntsman bus was wide-awake. A group of around 50 young Jon Huntsman supporters had hit the road, heading up to Liberty State Park, New Jersey, to see the former ambassador announce his dark-horse candidacy. Like the campaign itself, the pilgrimage had been cobbled together at the last minute. The young volunteers had gotten word only a few days in advance and had scrambled to fill buses from D.C. and Philadelphia. Stephen, a Huntsman organizer with a Utah basketball jersey draped over his button-down, handed out bagels.
With Mitch Daniels officially out of the race, Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee now a distant after-thought, and Newt Gingrich’s campaign running on fumes, pundits of all political stripes are finding it hard to shake a persistent belief that there’s a gaping hole in the Republican presidential field. Indeed, the most frequent theme that keeps cropping up in smart analysis of the current state of play is that the contest cries out for a late-entering, credible southern candidate.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s surprise announcement that he is not, after all, running for president in 2012 is sparking an incipient sense of panic in the self-confident ranks of Republican insiders. Ol’ Haley was so their type: solidly conservative without getting too carried away with it, innately at home with money and those who made lots of it, and always ready to cut a shrewd deal. But now, for whatever reason, Haley’s out.
Jason Zengerle, another victim of Haley Barbour's sudden abandonment of the campaign trail, has published a wonderful little piece in GQ about Barbour and Yazoo City: Mott eventually became one of Yazoo City's most progressive voices, penning editorials in the Herald that ultimately paved the way for the successful integration of Yazoo City's schools in 1970.
Lloyd Grove profiles Barbour for Newsweek: Iowa likes Haley Barbour, who’s set to announce his 2012 plans. In the huge GOP field, don’t bet against him. D'oh. It happens to everybody.