Now that Mitt Romney has secured the GOP nomination political speculation has turned to whom he will pick as his running mate.

In the overall scheme of things the selection of a running mate only really matters if the choice is a disaster–remember what Senator Eagleton did to McGovern’s candidacy?

More recently the selection of the gaffe prone Joe Biden didn’t hurt Barack Obama and Sarah Palin helped McCain. Palin energized the base. Once her selection was announced McCain surged ahead in the polls and he stayed there until his awful response to the financial crisis– proving that in the end, its the person at the top of the ticket that matters.

The mainstream media is trying to anoint one person or another as Romney’s choice, but it is all speculation. Nobody knows who the pick will be, not even Romney.

Romney’s team is going through the process of vetting all possible choices. For the next step Romney will whittle down the list and interview his top choices. More vetting and even more interviewing follow that. Sometime between August 1st and the first day of the convention on August 27th Romney will make up his mind.

Romney needs a running mate that will balance out his perceived weaknesses; an inability to relate to the “regular Joes,” possible bigotry related to his Mormon faith, and a conservative base of the party who still mistrusts him. His choice must handle the traditional VP candidate role of attack dog and most importantly  must be perceived as someone who can assume the role of President.

Most of the names below are on Romney’s long list of choices. Some of them he should explore fully, others he should ignore.

The Possibilities

Bobby Jindal: The Governor of Louisiana would ignite the base; he is a fiscal and social conservative and understands our energy needs. After all Louisiana is an oil drilling state. Jindal deftly managed the BP oil spill cleanup and at times made the Obama administration look silly.

In an era where many states and the federal government are having their credit ratings downgraded, Standard and Poor’s raised Louisiana’s bond rating and credit outlook from stable to positive giving credit to the state’s strong management and “commitment to streamlining its government functions.”

With three years in Congress and almost five years as Governor, as Vice President Bobby Jindal would be ready to step up and become president should it become necessary.

Marco Rubio: Having met Marco Rubio, both before and after he was elected Florida’s Senator I am convinced that one day Marco Rubio will be President of the United States. This however is not that time. He is smart, passionate, has a good understanding of the issues, and it doesn’t hurt that he is the child of Cuban immigrants.

Four years ago the Republicans said Barack Obama was too inexperienced to be President. Some of Obama’s critics claim the economy is still suffering from the President’s inexperience. It would be hard for those same people to defend a selection who is no more experienced than the candidate they criticized four years ago.

Rob Portman: The Senator from Ohio, Portman has many of the qualifications Romney needs in a VP candidate and it doesn’t hurt that he comes from what is seen as pivotal state in the 2012 Election. But VP Candidates don’t always deliver their home state. Probably the biggest negative about Portman is that he is so boring he makes Mitt Romney look like Mr. Excitement.

Pat Toomey: The Senator from Pennsylvania has credentials as one of foremost expert on budgets, the economy and deficit reduction in Congress. As a plus Toomey is a social conservative, he doesn’t make it the center of his political agenda and was able to win independent voters in a moderate state like Pennsylvania. Toomey has only been in the Senate for only two years but also has six years in the House.

The Long Shots

Bob McDonnell: McDonnell has done a great job as Governor of Virginia Under his watch; unemployment in Virginia has dropped to 5.6 percent, compared to the national rate of 8.1 percent. McDonnell has attracted businesses to the state has been able to slash budget deficits without raising taxes.

With President Obama poised to use the fictional war on women as a way to deflect from the bad economy, McDonnell would be an albatross to the Romney effort. Obama and his allies in the mainstream media would certainly make an issue of the Governor’s senior thesis written 23 years ago. Among other things the Governor “described working women and feminists as ‘detrimental’ to the family.”

The Governor has long since disassociated himself from those words, calling it a product of immaturity, however the progressive dominated media tends to ignore retractions when they come from a Republican.

Mitch Daniels: Many people thought that the experienced Governor of Indiana would be a candidate for President (he might have won). Daniels didn’t run because his wife objected. There is no indication his wife changed her mind. Daniels is not very exciting although he is better than Portman in this category.

Mike Huckabee: The former Governor of Arkansas and candidate in 2008 would be an interesting choice.  The downsides however are there also. He did not really have the support of conservatives in 2008 until he became the last “not McCain” standing.  To be honest, I don’t believe that Huckabee wants the job. He enjoys his commentator/pundit role, just started a syndicated radio show, and doesn’t want to risk losing that.  Added to that is the fact that Romney and Huckabee had a very contentious relationship in 2008.

Rick Santorum: Remember when conservative Ronald Reagan picked the guy who came in second, moderate George H.W. Bush, as a way of unifying the party? Would Romney pick the closest also-ran to unify the party? You never know.

The Rejects

Chris Christie: Christie would be a “blue collar candidate” and may calm bigots who have a problem with Romney’s religion. He is also a true budget cutter and would be a great attack dog. But if the candidate is looking to ignite the base this is not his guy. On many issues important to conservatives such as: support of the 2nd Amendment, global warming and sealing our borders before any comprehensive immigration plan, Christie is more liberal than many Democrats.

Tim Pawlenty:
The former Governor of Minnesota the criteria and would probably appeal to independents (he was a conservative Governor in one of the most liberal states). The huge negative is  he was an awful presidential candidate. No killer instinct. Remember when he came up with the term Obamycare? Rather than defend the term in one of the early debates with Romney, Pawlenty backed off leaving people to wonder if he could be strong enough for the national stage.

Jeb Bush
: This Bush would be a much better President than his brother or his father; and would be an excellent pick for VP if he had a different last name. When President Obama is not blaming rich people, the GOP or evil corporations for his mistakes, he is blaming George Bush. Picking another Bush right now would be toxic for the Romney campaign.

Condoleezza Rice: Her last name isn’t Bush but it might as well be, the former Secretary of State is too connected to the Bush presidency to be seriously considered.  Besides the job she really wants is NFL Commissioner.

Paul Ryan: The Wisconsin has many of the qualifications Romney needs, but Romney needs him even more in the House of Representatives. Ryan is the House budget geek, and knows the numbers inside and out. A big problem is that generally congressmen do not do well on the national ticket. The last member of the House who went straight to the presidency was James Garfield in 1881. Elected VPs who made that leap are just as rare, the only names I could find were Schuyler Colfax, who was elected in 1868 to be Ulysses S. Grant’s VP and John Nance Garner who served one term as FDR’s VP.

Allen West: Beyond his politics, the Congressman from
Florida is the most honest and honorable politician I have ever met. I
don’t believe Allen West will be seriously considered this time around. 
Along with the fact that he is in the House, West needs more experience and better self-editing skills before he is
ready to appear on a national ticket.

According to former New Hampshire Senator and Romney insider John Sununu there are twenty potential vice president picks being vetted by Romney’s staff. Many of the people named above are on that list.

One of those twenty may end up being Romney’s selection….but not so fast. The last two Republican selections for Vice President, Dick Chaney and Sarah Palin were chosen after all the other possibilities were vetted and rejected by the Presidential candidate. When it comes to the “veepstakes” no one really knows until the candidate is ready to make an announcement.

My friend John Hawkins decided to write about the Veepstakes this morning also, we agree on some and disagree on others.  I recommend you click here to go to his post for a “second opinion.”