Predicting whom a particular candidate will take as Vice-President is always difficult because so many factors play into it. Do both candidates get along? Is the presidential nominee looking to carry a particular state, region, or demographic group? Does he want a rock star or is he looking for a candidate who won’t overshadow him? Is he looking to solidify his base or is he just trying to add strength across the board in a general election? Here are the running mates that Mitt Romney is most likely to choose (We’ll start with the top 10 most likely candidates and the remainder will be in alphabetical order).
10) Jim DeMint (Senator, South Carolina)
Strengths: He has impeccable conservative credentials, he’s popular with the base, he has experience in D.C., and he would definitely help Romney in the South.
Weaknesses: He only has so-so charisma and isn’t well liked by the establishment Republican crowd.
9) Mitch Daniels (Governor, Indiana)
Strengths: He has strong fiscal conservative credentials and Obama did win Indiana in 2008.
Weaknesses: Daniels is dull, gaffe prone, endorsed Dick Lugar over Richard Mourdock, is disliked by social conservatives and if Mitt can’t win Indiana without Mitch Daniels, he’s probably not going to win anyway.
8) Paul Ryan (Congressman, Wisconsin)
Strengths: He’s conservative, popular with the base, his economic proposals have been at the center of the GOP’s agenda for the last two cycles, and his experience in Congress would be a plus. It would make him significantly more attractive if he could help carry Wisconsin, but he probably doesn’t have that kind of juice.
Weaknesses: Not particularly charismatic and while conservatives love his economic proposals, they may turn out to be more of a weakness than a strength with the general public.
7) Susana Martinez (Governor, New Mexico)
Strengths: Martinez is the first Hispanic woman governor in the United States, which combines two key demographics that Republicans want to reach very badly. She’s also conservative and New Mexico is a swing state, albeit a small one.
Weaknesses: She has low name ID and was just elected in 2010, so she’s inexperienced.
6) Pat Toomey (Senator, Pennsylvania)
Strengths: He has strong fiscal conservative credentials, he’s popular with the base, he’s experienced, and he could help in Pennsylvania, which is a state Mitt would like to compete in.
Weaknesses: He has low national name ID and isn’t particularly charismatic.
5) Rick Santorum (Former Senator, Pennsylvania)
Strengths: Santorum is extremely popular with social conservatives, has experience and a solid national security background, would have no problem going on the attack, is from a state Mitt Romney would very much like to make competitive, and his selection would help heal lingering wounds from the primary.
Weaknesses: He’s not particularly charismatic, his social conservative positions turn some people off, and he’s not wildly popular with conservatives.
4) Marco Rubio (Senator, Florida)
Strengths: He’s from Florida, which is a must win state for Romney. He’s also Hispanic, which is a key demographic Romney would like to reach. Additionally, he’s charismatic and he’s popular with conservatives.
Weaknesses: This is Rubio’s first term in the Senate, so he’s inexperienced. He’s also working on a modified version of the DREAM ACT that will be more acceptable to conservatives, but will still be less than popular with the base.
3) Tim Pawlenty (Former Governor, Minnesota)
Strengths: He’s a well prepared, conservative candidate who might be able to help deliver Minnesota, which would be no small matter.
Weaknesses: He’s not particularly charismatic and his early departure from a 2012 race, where almost everyone else seemed to take a turn at the top, was particularly unimpressive.
2) Chris Christie (Governor, New Jersey)
Strengths: He has been a ferocious Mitt backer, is charismatic, generally well liked by conservatives, fiscally conservative, and he’s also a ferocious attacker, which is a useful trait for a VP. If he could help deliver New Jersey, it would make him a considerably more attractive candidate, but that may be a tall order.
Weaknesses: This is Christie’s first term as governor, so he’s inexperienced. This would also put two moderate northeastern Republicans on the ticket. That could dispirit conservatives and could make it even more difficult to hold southern states like North Carolina and Virginia.
1) Rob Portman: (Senator, Ohio)
Strengths: Romney must win Ohio to defeat Obama and Portman would make that much more likely. Portman has served in the House and under Bush as the U.S. Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). That experience would be very useful if Romney’s elected.
Weaknesses: Portman is dull and his connection to Bush would be a liability.
Kelly Ayotte (Senator, New Hampshire)
Strengths: She’s a woman from a small swing state she could help carry. She also endorsed Mitt early.
Weaknesses: She’s inexperienced, she’s a moderate, and she and Mitt together would mean there would be two northeastern Republicans on the ticket.
Michele Bachmann (Congress, Minnesota)
Strengths: She female, very conservative, she has some charisma, she’s from a potential swing state, and she’s in tight with the Tea Party.
Weaknesses: She tends to get off message, is a little gaffe prone, and hurt her reputation with some of the sleazy attacks she launched in the primaries.
Haley Barbour (Former Governor, Mississippi)
Strengths: He’s conservative, experienced, gained national exposure with his outstanding handling of Hurricane Katrina, and would help in the south.
Weaknesses: He’s not particularly charismatic and he’s a lobbyist.
Marsha Blackburn (Congresswoman, Tennessee)
Strengths: She’s an attractive, experienced, charismatic conservative woman who could help Mitt in southern states.
Weaknesses: She would probably be the best fit for Romney of any female candidate that Mitt could select, but she has received very little public consideration for the VP slot.
Jan Brewer (Governor, Arizona)
Strengths: She’s the high profile, feisty, female conservative governor of a swing state who has gone toe-to-toe with Barack Obama.
Weaknesses: Not as rock ribbed of a conservative as some people would like. Her high profile stance on illegal immigration might make the Romney campaign fear she’d hurt him with Hispanic voters.
Jeb Bush (Former Governor, Florida)
Strengths: He’s very popular in Florida and would almost guarantee that key swing state, he could conceivably help with Hispanic voters, and he’d also fully tap into the Bush network of donors and guarantee a stronger fund raising performance.
Weaknesses: He’s terrible on illegal immigration and the country probably isn’t ready for another Bush in the White House.
Newt Gingrich (Former Speaker of the House, Georgia)
Strengths: Brilliant debater, big idea guy, ferocious attacker, and selecting him would help heal some of the wounds from the primaries and aid Mitt in the South.
Weaknesses: Gingrich can be undisciplined, he’s not particularly popular with the base, and Newt and Mitt seem to hate each other.
Nikki Haley (Governor, South Carolina)
Strengths: She supported Mitt from the get-go in South Carolina, has drawn a lot of Tea Party support, and could probably help him in the South.
Weaknesses: She’s inexperienced and the fact that she didn’t carry SC for Mitt doesn’t speak well for her influence.
Mike Huckabee (Former Governor, Arkansas)
Strengths: He’s charismatic, appeals to social conservatives, and would definitely help in the south.
Weaknesses: He’s not particularly popular with grassroots conservatives and had a vicious rivalry with Romney in 2008.
Bobby Jindal (Governor, Louisiana)
Strengths: He’s well liked by conservatives and could conceivably help in the south.
Weaknesses: He’s young, inexperienced, and is so-so on charisma.
Bob McDonnell (Governor, Virginia)
Strengths: Virginia is in play and presumably, McDonnell would be enough to seal the state for Romney and help him across the South. He has a strong background on social conservative issues, which is another area where Romney could use the help.
Weaknesses: He’s not particularly charismatic, has low name identification, and was just elected as governor of Virginia in 2010, so he’s inexperienced.
Rand Paul (Senator, Kentucky)
Strengths: He’s conservative, popular with the base, would probably help in the south, and is the only candidate who could bring the majority of Ron Paul’s fans onboard.
Weaknesses: He’s raw, inexperienced, leans Libertarian, and selecting him would rub a lot of people the wrong way after his father spent most of the primaries inexplicably flacking for Romney.
Mike Pence (Congressman, Indiana)
Strengths: He’s a strong fiscal conservative who’s popular with the base and well known in Indiana, a state which Obama won in 2012.
Weaknesses: He seems set on running for governor of Indiana and if Romney can’t swing Indiana without help, he’s probably doomed.
Rick Perry (Governor, Texas)
Strengths: He has a great record as a job creator, is a powerful fundraiser, and might be able to help the campaign in the south.
Weaknesses: He never caught on in his run at the presidency, Texas shouldn’t be in play, and he endorsed Newt over Mitt when he dropped out.
Condi Rice (Former Secretary of State, California)
Strengths: She has foreign policy experience and could potentially appeal to black voters.
Weaknesses: She’s never run for elected office before, isn’t particularly charismatic, and is closely connected to George W. Bush.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Congresswoman, Washington)
Strengths: She’s personable, conservative, and would help Romney appeal to female voters.
Weaknesses: She has low name ID and Washington is probably not in play.
Brian Sandoval (Governor, Nevada)
Strengths: He’s the Hispanic governor of a southwestern swing state.
Weaknesses: Low name ID, very inexperienced.
John Thune (Senator, South Dakota)
Strengths: He’s conservative, ambitious, and his name always seems to pop up on these sort of lists.
Weaknesses: He’s not charismatic and South Dakota isn’t exactly a swing state. He wouldn’t seem to bring much to the ticket.
Scott Walker (Governor, Wisconsin)
Strengths: A strong, high profile conservative governor who could conceivably carry Wisconsin for the Romney campaign.
Weaknesses: He’s inexperienced, he has been controversial, and his selection would fire up the Left and the unions.
Allen West (Congressman, Florida)
Strengths: West is a fiery conservative who’s popular with the base and has no problem going on offense. How much he would help with carrying Florida, which is a must win state — or with the black vote, is up in the air, but he wouldn’t hurt on either count.
Weaknesses: He’s inexperienced. This is his first term in office and his hot rhetoric could occasionally cause problems on the campaign trail.