I Know Mitt's Veep Pick!

Article excerpt

Byline: Don't Believe The Hype: It Won't Be Ryan Or Rubio. By Paul Begala

You heard it here first: Mitt Romney is going to select Rob Portman, the junior senator from Ohio, to be his running mate. I have no insight into how Romney will make this decision. But I had a front-row seat at what I believe was the best veep choice of my lifetime.

When Bill Clinton was choosing his running mate in 1992, I made a pitch for Sen. Harris Wofford--a visionary who had worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. Wofford seemed perfect because he would have balanced the ticket, and that's what conventional wisdom considers most important: Clinton was young, Wofford was older; Clinton was a Southerner, Wofford was from Pennsylvania; Clinton was a governor, Wofford served in Congress; Clinton was a Protestant, Wofford was a Catholic; Clinton was a moderate, Wofford was a liberal. But Clinton was blown away by his meeting with Al Gore and settled on him quickly, even though Gore was the same age, same region, same religion, and same ideology. "Why pick him?" I asked. "Because, Paulie," Clinton said in a near whisper, "I might die." Gulp.

I wasn't in the room when George W. Bush chose Dick Cheney. (Well, Cheney actually chose Cheney, but never mind.) Cheney wasn't picked for his animal magnetism, and Wyoming's three electoral votes weren't a factor, so politics had nothing to do with it. Obama's choice of Joe Biden was likewise about governing, not campaigning. Delaware was never in doubt, and Biden's global experience and middle-class sensibility made him a great choice.

Can Romney, with his Etch a Sketch character and Slinky spine, make a nonpolitical decision on his veep? He'd better. Above all, he needs an anti-Palin: someone who will not overshadow him, someone who will not blow up in his face, and someone who will fit Romney's play-it-safe, buttoned-up image.

That rules out Marco Rubio, everyone's preseason first-round draft choice. Choosing Rubio might be bold (the first Latino), but it would also be risky, inviting massive scrutiny of a guy who was speaker of the Florida House five minutes ago. Same goes for other impressive Hispanic newcomers like Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. Plus, choosing any of them guarantees lengthy and uncomfortable discussions about why Romney has positioned himself so far right on Latino issues. …