Guide To Picking A VP

Mitt Romney is traveling around auditioning potential running mates, flattering them all into thinking they're top level contenders.  He insists he has made no decisions and has entrusted the search to a trusted aide who is unlikely to nominate herself.  He wants to pick someone who can step in and take over if necessary, he said.  In other words, no Sarah Palin.

Historically, the vice presidential candidate makes little difference in the election.  Two notable exceptions are Lyndon Johnson, who was critical to carrying Texas in the 1960 election, and Gov.Sara Palin, who became more punch line and liability than serious candidate, but it is unlikely anyone or anything could have saved John McCain in 2008.

Here are a dozen possible role models, those who have served as vice president over the past half century.

  1. Joe Biden – He had solid foreign policy and legislative credentials, and has been a valuable advisor, but he has a tendency to shoot from the lip, so keep him on a short leash.  His Irish charm complements your laid back style.
  2. Dick Cheney – He was a take charge guy who not only nominated himself for the job but also took charge of the White House and left the prez free to spend more time in the gym or at his ranch clearing brush.
  3. Al Gore – He knew the Hill well and the tree huggers, and was a partner and advisor on policy issue, and willing to wait his turn.
  4. Dan Quayle – He was picked because he was cute and a potential draw for women's vote and he could make any president look brilliant. He was kept out of the loop. He could often be loopy, but far right liked him better than the prez.
  5. George H. W. Bush – He brought a strong national security resume and wanted the job so badly he was willingly do what he was told, which was largely to stay out of the way and not compete with the boss.
  6. Walter Mondale – He's the role model of veep as a partner; he had a voice in policy decisions and was a liaison to the Congress, which liked him a hell of a lot better than it did the prez.
  7. Hubert Humphrey – He was very smart, popular among former Congressional colleagues, loquacious and loyal to a fault. And LBJ wanted to appease the liberals, who never trusted him.
  8. Lyndon Johnson – He was picked because he could deliver Texas but after the election the Kennedys shunned him, and he spent three years quietly brooding, kept far from the action, but then lightning struck and he proved more than up to the job.
  9. Nelson Rockefeller – He could handle the ceremonies, was articulate, complemented the boss' style and helpful with the business community.
  10. Gerald Ford – He was a nice guy, everyone on the Hill liked him which was critical since they were the only ones who vote for him as the first appointed vice president. A mensch, he made it easier to impeach the president.
  11. Sprio Agnew – Insurance.  No one would dare impeach a president if they knew this crook would succeed him.
  12. Richard Nixon – He helped mollify the party's right wing for a general with no known ideology, but he was kept at arm's length, couldn't be trusted, wasn't consulted and after 8 years the boss couldn't think of any decisions he played a role in.
About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.