Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mitt Romney’s campaign stop with Rubio fuels speculation about running mate

April 24 (Bloomberg) -- Mitt Romney promotes himself as a chief executive fit for the White House. He has now begun the process of making his most consequential management decision yet: choosing a vice president.

Romney’s search for a running mate is officially under way. His campaign appearance yesterday with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American whose popularity with Republican voters and Hispanics has earned him a top spot on the list of prospective picks, only drew attention to a process that is as secretive as it is closely watched.

What is known is that Romney, who was vetted for the No. 2 spot in 2008 by party nominee Senator John McCain’s campaign, has named longtime aide Beth Myers to head the process, tapping a trusted adviser whose experience assisting the former Massachusetts governor four years ago will inform her effort this time.

“Beth Myers has begun to put together a number of the names and criteria and so forth that would be associated with that process,” Romney told reporters in a joint question-and- answer session with Rubio yesterday outside Philadelphia. “But we really haven’t had a discussion yet of putting together a list or evaluating various candidates.”

Romney said he and Myers have begun looking for the people -- including those well-versed in examining financial records -- who will help scrub potential candidates’ backgrounds for any impropriety, political liability or other problems.

‘Very Early Stages’

“We’re looking at various people, resources to help with that process, accounting staff and so forth, to take a look at tax returns and things of that nature,” Romney said. “It’s just at the very early stages.”

Vice presidential nominees typically debut at the party’s national convention, giving Romney several months to make his decision before it gets under way on Aug. 27.

Among the many unknowns is what Romney will try to achieve with his selection.

The choice typically mixes intangible factors, including personal rapport and personality type with straightforward political considerations such as appeal in a competitive state or with a certain element of the party base.

“There’s a well-developed set of criteria, and no one person ever scores a 10 on each criteria; so then it becomes a judgment call made by the candidate and his team,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican polling specialist with Virginia-based North Star Opinion Research.

Personal Chemistry

“Personal comfort with the nominee is a very important criterion -- comfort and chemistry,” Ayres said. “And then the political criteria of can someone bring a state that Romney might not otherwise get, or can you generate excitement for the ticket because you are trusted among a part of the coalition that doesn’t particularly trust him.”

Romney’s advisers wouldn’t speak publicly about the selection process and the campaign declined through spokeswoman Andrea Saul to comment. Still, some people close to the candidate say privately that they expect to see his disciplined, data-driven decision-making approach prevail in his search for a running mate.

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