The story broke Thursday by the Drudge Report, a prominent news aggregator, the same day as the Romney for president campaign confirmed in an email that the vice presidential nominee would be selected prior to the Republican National Convention to be held in Tampa, Fla. next month.
Rice has always been considered a front-runner for the nod, just as she was in 2008. The buzz intensified after she gave a well-received speech at a Romney event last month. She did little to quell speculation in a subsequent interview when she stated, “I talked about the need for American leadership; I talked about the importance of the United States to a more peaceful world, a world that has been quite turbulent in recent years and needs a strong American anchor.”
Whether or not it’s Rice, one thing is for sure: Romney’s announcement may still be a few weeks away, but he will not make the same mistakes Sen. John McCain made with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Prior to entering the national stage, Romney’s pick will be groomed for the position, very well prepared and ready to hit the road in stride with the rest of the campaign.
What this little blurb also tells us is that Romney has figured out that his running mate is going to be integral to the dynamics of his campaign. The 2012 election is rather unusual, and the circumstances defy history. This is very much a transformational year, much like 1980 was. The country is unsettled, the sitting president has lackluster approval numbers and Americans know how important the choice will be. Typically these elections bring about a lot of hoopla, with supporters flooding the streets weeping and singing the praises of their savior, but not this year. We saw a bit of this in 2008 when then-candidate Obama’s supporters fainted at the very sight of him and breathlessly thanked him for his presence.
Those days are basically over now. President Obama still commands an impressive crowd, but nothing like 2008 when we saw football stadiums full of people all holding pre-printed, DNC-approved rally signs swaying back in forth in unison to his lofty rhetoric. Obama today tends to come across with kind of a thud, his legislative victories reminiscent of that one awkward guy who showed up late to the party with just a few too many drinks on his breath — disruptive but not necessarily loud, and after a few minutes, roundly ignored.
Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has the same problem. I’ve been in the same room as Romney many times, and I can count on one hand the number of times Romney has elicited anything more than a smile or an eyebrow raise from those around him. He may be an accomplished businessman and seasoned politician, but when I think of inspiring world leaders who will mold a generation with their words and actions, neither Romney nor Obama come immediately to mind.
This is where the Republican vice presidential nominee comes in. Romney has an enthusiasm gap, and where Sarah Palin delighted and awakened the Republican base in 2008, the rest of the country wrote her off as a nincompoop. Vice President Biden is living proof that you can indeed be the vice president and the court jester at the same time, but Romney isn’t going to take that chance.
Romney could do worse than Condoleezza Rice as his running mate. She’s experienced, accomplished and a westerner. She’s been on the national stage for much of her career. She isn’t a firebrand like Chris Christie, a Romney clone like Rob Portman, a meathead like Paul Ryan or a lady-in-waiting like Tim Pawlenty, but she may just be the jolt of interestingness the campaign desperately needs. Television debates between her and Joe Biden would be a hoot and, with a little work, Tina Fey could probably play her on SNL.
The countdown to Romney’s announcement has begun, and I’m looking forward to it. The announcement is imminent, so let’s cross our fingers that Romney will select a game changer like Rice, and not just another wrinkly old white guy.
Sean Cary is a local business owner, freelance writer, host of “Week in Review” heard on Fox News Radio 99.1 FM and pundit on the television show “Nevada Newsmakers.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and read his blog at www.seancary.com.