For overcoming the knee-jerk religious prejudice of a lot of people in his own party, Mitt Romney deserves applause … but I’m sure he would agree that his campaign has entered a difficult new phase. It’s time for him to start making better decisions about his brand message.
Too many people believe Romney is removed from the concerns of everyday Americans. His VP choice, which may be announced soon, should address that problem. Independents are concerned that Romney is a little too smooth, a little too careful, a little too scripted — all supposedly signs that he is out of touch with what working people face in tough times.
I have no idea who will eventually get the call … but here are some thoughts on the brand implications of some of the people being mentioned now.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO, a popular Latino conservative from a swing state, would send a powerful multicultural message … and might just make the difference in Florida. Rubio’s parents are immigrants from Cuba, and he could help bring the Hispanic vote home for Romney. The fact that Rubio doesn’t have a lot of experience worries me, though, as it might worry a lot of people.
GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL of Louisiana, the nation’s first Indian-American governor, would bring a lot to the ticket. He adds experience, personal charisma, and a powerful new media topic: his conversion to Christianity. This pick would fix a big branding challenge for Romney, who might otherwise be sidetracked with endless talk about how stiff and unnatural he supposedly is and how much the religious conservatives mistrust him. Jindal would add the necessary fire, stay on message, calm down the religious right, and attract independents. This one guy solves a lot of problems.
FORMER GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY is apparently on the short list, but I don’t know why. His state, Minnesota, is going to go for Obama, and he proved during the primaries that he is a pretty lackluster figure on the campaign trail.
SENATOR ROB PORTMAN might help Romney carry Ohio, which is significant, but in my opinion he magnifies, rather than removes, Romney’s perceived traits of distance, blandness, and inauthenticity. I just don’t see him adding the necessary energy and momentum to the ticket. USA Today called this possible matchup “double bland.” Not a good sign.
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE wouldn’t really solve anything. She brings more charisma problems to the campaign than she solves. Picking her would tick off a lot of social conservatives, and it would renew the whole “flip-flop” message Obama loves sending. (Romney has promised to pick a pro-life running mate, which Rice isn’t.) I don’t see this happening. In fact, I think all the talk about Rice is a distraction designed to make whoever Romney does pick a bigger news event.
Who’s your pick? It’s my blog, but your voice. I want to hear from you.
You Sleep When You Die: Gut-Check for the GOP: Romney And The Religious Right
USA Today: Romney and Portman: Double bland, or doubly competent?