The Ultimate Job Interview

Article excerpt

Byline: Lloyd Grove

The dangerous art of veep vetting.

With the Republican nomination virtually assured, Mitt Romney would be wise to start thinking about a running mate--and also consider how that choice will be vetted.

History is littered with veep candidates who hurt the campaigns they were picked to help--largely because of a hasty selection that forced a rushed research job and/or avoidable political miscalculation. From 1972's Tom Eagleton (electroshock treatments) to 1988's Dan Quayle (Vietnam-era service issues) to 2008's Sarah Palin (where to begin?), the dangers of tossing an inadequately vetted running mate into the national meat-grinder are well recognized.

The established rules of the game require answers to questions covering finances for the candidate, spouse, and children; medical records, marital history, religion, illegal drug use, sexual impropriety, and writings and statements--all backstopped by teams of lawyers, accountants, doctors, and political strategists who report to the nominee. Prevaricators need not apply.

"The process has to be fair and transparent and open, and the candidate himself needs to interview his shortlist--and George W. did not interview his shortlist," says former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, who was on Bush's 2000 shortlist but lost out to chief vetter Dick Cheney, whom Keating suspects of leaking damaging personal information that he gave Cheney in good faith (Cheney denies leaking). Keating advises Romney to make sure his vetter isn't putting a thumb on the scale.

The process is riskier than ever in 2012, when anyone with a laptop can tweet a rumor and watch it go viral. …