Election 2008

Douglas C. Pizac/AP
Mitt Romney

Campaign Profiles: Republican Vice-Presidential Candidates

August 27, 2008
by Josh Katz
Following Barack Obama’s decision to pick Joe Biden as his running mate, attention now shifts to the McCain camp. Although Tom Ridge, Meg Whitman, Bobby Jindal, Condoleezza Rice and Sarah Palin are still possibilities, three names appear to top McCain’s alleged shortlist: Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney and Joe Lieberman.

Tim Pawlenty

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty prides himself on his authentically blue-collar ideals. He grew up in a working-class section of St. Paul, Minnesota, an area known for its stockyards. His father was a truck driver and his mother died of cancer when Tim was in his teens. The first in his family to get a college degree, he earned a B.A. and J.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Pawlenty practiced law, served in the Eagan City Council and was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives for 10 years, four of which he served as Majority Leader. Pawlenty planned to run for the U.S. Senate, but many Republicans thought that Norm Coleman had the better chance of winning, so Pawlenty ran for governor instead. He is currently in his second term. He is married to Mary, a former district court judge, and they have two daughters.

PROS: Pawlenty’s blue-collar appeal is considered one of his greatest vice-presidential attributes; he has said he wants the Republican Party to become the “party of Sam’s Club, not just the country club." The 47-year old Pawlenty also makes the ticket appear younger.

Pawlenty is a frequent churchgoer and his pastor heads the American Association of Evangelicals, a demographic that McCain has struggled with because of some of his less conservative policies. Pawlenty generally toes the Republican line of fiscal and social conservatism.

CONS: Some say that Pawlenty is trying too hard to become the VP nominee. He vetoed 34 bills passed by the Democratic legislature; that’s more than any Minnesota governor since World War II, says The New York Times, and it’s causing some people to question what policies he would actively pursue.

His ability to generate votes is also doubted by some. He is not widely known outside of his state, and in his state he won his position by a 47 percent to 46 percent vote. He couldn’t guarantee Minnesota for McCain.

Following the Minnesota bridge collapse, Democrats also partially blamed the state’s deteriorating infrastructure on the governor’s refusal to raise the gasoline tax. Pawlenty was also accused of political finance misconduct in the past, though he was eventually found not at fault.

The naming of Biden as Obama’s VP could also hurt Pawlenty’s chances. Biden is known as a skillful debater and is not afraid to go on the offensive. Whether the younger, untested Pawlenty could match up to Biden is questionable.

Mitt Romney

A number of sources place Mitt Romney at the front of the vice presidential nominee pack. Formerly considered John McCain’s greatest contender in the primaries, Romney has been a VP possibility since he dropped out of the race.

Romney’s father was the governor of Michigan. Raised as a Mormon, he graduated from Brigham Young University in 1971, and then went on to get degrees from Harvard Law in 1975 and Harvard Business in 1975. Romney co-founded Bain Capital and gained fame for his work as CEO of the Salt Lake Winter Olympics, overcoming budgetary constraints and security issues. He was Republican governor of the primarily Democratic state of Massachusetts from 2003–07.

As governor, he built on the skills he used during the Olympics
and “revamped the state’s finances and implemented the first universal health insurance program in the country,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

He and his wife Anne have five sons.
PROS: Romney is thought to be the safe choice for McCain. Although he was McCain’s main challenger during the primaries, he conceded earlier than many of his supporters would have wanted, demonstrating his loyalty to McCain and the Republican Party.

Romney is known for his financial acumen
, as demonstrated by his success as chief executive of the Salt Lake City Olympics and his budgetary work as Massachusetts’s governor. Analysts have criticized McCain’s economic shortcomings, and Romney would fill that gap well.

He also has plenty of money to spend. With a net worth speculated between $250 million and $500 million, the Romney family could keep the McCain campaign coffers full.

Romney could also help McCain win the battleground state of Michigan, the place where his father served as governor. His Mormon faith could also prove helpful in picking up the contentious states of Nevada and Colorado.

Finally, as Paul Bedard of U.S. News & World Report writes, “most Republicans have barely heard about most of the other names that have been bandied about. They all know Romney.”
CONS: There are worries that Romney won’t be able to help the Republicans win his home state of Massachusetts. Although he served as governor for four years, Massachusetts is traditionally a Democratic stronghold.

Romney has also been charged with flip-flopping on his policies. For example, he spearheaded a universal health insurance plan as governor. But as a Republican presidential candidate, he has supported more conservative policies on immigration, abortion and same-sex civil unions.

Also, questions surrounding Romney’s Mormon faith prompted him to make a speech during the primaries in order to clear up some common misconceptions. Winning over social conservatives who are skeptical about Romney’s religious views might be challenging.

Romney and McCain were also fierce competitors during the primary season. The McCain campaign has been quick to release ads showcasing Sen. Joe Biden’s earlier critiques of Sen. Obama’s credentials, and choosing Romney might leave McCain open to similar attacks.

Romney also doesn’t have the same working-class appeal
that Tim Pawlenty or Tom Ridge would have.

Joe Lieberman

Joe Lieberman is currently in his fourth term as senator of Connecticut. He entered the national spotlight in 2000 when he joined the Democratic ticket as Al Gore’s vice-president choice. The self-described “independent Democrat” has openly endorsed McCain. Although he recently said, "I don't expect the offer will be extended to me,” Lieberman is still considered a viable option, though a long shot.

Born and brought up in Stamford, Connecticut, Lieberman earned his undergraduate degree from Yale College in 1964, and a law degree from Yale Law three years later. In 1970, he entered the Connecticut State Senate, serving for 10 years; he was Majority Leader for the last six years of his tenure. He served as Attorney General of Connecticut from 1983 to 1988 and became senator in 1988.

Previously a Democrat, Lieberman switched to the Independent Party in his bid for the 2006 senate election. He went on to win his fourth term.

Lieberman and his wife Hadassah have four children and five grandchildren.

PROS: Lieberman is not a safe choice like Romney, but he is a unique one. As William Kristol argues in The New York Times, a candidate like Lieberman could provide a shot in the arm to “the generic Republican ballot."

Putting Lieberman on the ticket could counter the Democratic attack that a McCain presidency would be a clone of President Bush’s. Not only might Lieberman pick up disenchanted Hillary Clinton supporters for McCain, but he would provide a better alternative for conservative pro-lifers than a Barack Obama presidency would.
Lieberman is also an adroit debater who has been in this position before and could match Biden.

Lieberman is well known for his extensive knowledge of international relations and national security. He helped create the Department of Homeland Security and he is Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Perhaps most important of all, Lieberman is an ardent McCain supporter and friend.

CONS: Lieberman is not a conservative Republican. He supports abortion rights and his voting record reflects the point of view of a moderate Democrat. As a result, he has the potential to isolate many conservative members of his party.

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