People are talking about Senator Marco Rubio. His supporters compare him to a former junior senator from Illinois, now President, who impressed the nation with his charismatic speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
Yet, his naysayers draw a far less favorable comparison to Senator John McCain’s running-mate in 2008, former Governor Sarah Palin, whose lack of experience might have served as the final blow to his beleagured campaign. Nevertheless, political buzz surrounds surrounds Florida’s Cuban-American senator and the likelihood that he could become Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running-mate.
Like picking a spouse, the selection of a presidential candidate’s running mate centers upon creating the right mesh of personalities. A vice-president should neither overshadow the personality of the presidential nominee, nor should he at all seem like a wallflower. With Mitt Romney’s awkwarness on the campaign trail becoming a running national joke, he does not want to risk a charismatic speaker, like Rubio, eclipsing his star. Yet, other analysts counter that Romney cannot afford to pass over a running-mate who would provide a needing burst of star-power to what remains an unexciting campaign.
While the conventional wisdom on Vice-Presidential picks holds that a running-mate can secure votes in a swing-state, others view Rubio as lucrative in a more important way – winning over Hispanic voters. With tough anti-illegal immigrant laws passed by Republican-dominated states like Arizona, the Republican party has done much to alienate America’s growing Hispanic population. Rubio, a champion of some pathway towards citizenship for undocumented immigrants, could bring needed minority support for Romney.
Choosing Rubio as a running-mate might prove a gamble in ways other than his dominant personality. Possible ethical violations and years of debt could prove embrassing for Romney, a candidate who prides himself on fiscal responsibility. Yet, Romney should be realistic about his powers of persuasion compared to President Obama’s appealing personality. The nominee may have no choice except fighting star power with star power, even if it’s not truly his own.