We polled our OutFront Political Strike, our panel of thirty-one independent political journalists and analysts. We asked whether Mitt Romney need a ‘game changing’ vice president pick?”
McCay Coppins: No. The central rationale behind Mitt Romney’s campaign is that this election is a referendum on President Obama, which means he needs to keep the electorate focused on the incumbent’s economic record. An exciting, buzzy, Palin-esque pick would distract from that message. Romney needs a running mate who will seem competent, serious, safe — and thoroughly boring.
David Walker: No. Romney’s VP pick should meet four criteria. First, the person needs to be widely viewed as someone who is able to assume the responsibilities of the Presidency if something happens to the President. Second, the person should be a net plus in helping him win the Presidency. Third, the person needs to be able to help him govern. Finally, there should be good personal chemistry between Romney and the individual he selects.
Linda Killian: Yes and No. He doesn’t seem to be getting traction and it’s a little surprising that given the state of the economy he isn’t doing better. But an attempt at a game changing pick can be risky. The main question most voters ask about the vice president is – are they ready to be president. John McCain failed miserably in that regard with his pick of Sarah Palin. It energized the base and helped him raise money but backfired in the end. Ohio Senator Rob Portman and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty would be viewed as qualified and could help carry their home state but they are not terribly exciting. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan might be a more appealing pick for the GOP base but his nationwide appeal, especially with swing voters, is questionable.
LZ Granderson: Yes, and quick. He’s in a self-imposed whirlpool (gaffes, taxes, Bain) and his numbers are dragging down because of it. A VP choice with some buzz could change the narrative. A boring or predictable choice does nothing to help his ticket’s Q-rating.
Taegan Goddard: Yes. Romney is now behind in the polls and needs to do something to change the trajectory of this race. There are only a few things he can control in order to do this and a vice presidential running mate is one of them.
Lisa M. Borders: Yes, absolutely – he has been brilliantly defined by the Prez’ team and has lost substantial group at a very late date.
Kyle Leighton: No. He needs something, given the last month of campaigning and the latest round of polling. But it seems like he needs help changing the conversation back to the economy, something a good surrogate could help with, rather than an out of the box VP pick that would send the campaign in another direction.
Candy Crowley: No. A VP pick can help and/or hurt but I’m in the school that believes people vote for the top of the ticket. Having said that, the #2 decision is the first of a trifecta of opportunities that Romney has to change his own game. Next is his convention speech (his biggest audience ever) and then three debates (even bigger audiences). All present a collective opportunity for Romney to show increasingly tuned-in voters who he is and what he’s about.
Carlos Sierra: Yes. Mitt needs a game changing VP without the Sarah Palin stigma and baggage. John McCain changed the political mantra of “VP’s don’t matter.” Recent polling now says that VP’s do in fact matter.
Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez, Kelly Ayotte, and Paul Ryan would be game changers. Romney hasn’t run an inspiring or visionary campaign so I see him picking Portman or Pawlenty.
Mark Preston: No. This election will not be determined by Mitt Romney’s running mate. As James Carville famously said, “It’s the economy stupid.”
Omar H. Ali: Yes. However, “game changing” is a relative term. For Independents, game-changing would mean changing the rules of the bipartisan-dominated game to make our electoral system more open to all voters and all candidates. The rules of our of electoral system are designed to keep one or the other major party in power through closed primaries, restrictive ballot access, and redistricting that favors whichever party has a simple majority. Actual game-changing would mean ending bipartisan rule–not something Romney, and partisan Republicans or Democrats want.