Pimping for McDonnell

Despite their early endorsement of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Bearing Drift remains my favorite Virginia blog.  You can’t agree with your friends all of the time; family less so.  In fact, disagreement (if done in a civil manner) can be quite healthy.  It is in this spirit that I must publicly disagree with Bearing Drift’s Brian Schoeneman and the reasoning behind his “McDonnell for Veep” campaign.

Let’s start by agreeing with Schoeneman that Virginia governor Bob McDonnell would make a good running mate for Romney (who I sadly acknowledge will be the GOP nominee).  Here is Schoeneman’s conclusion, a well written accolade for McDonnell:

That leaves Bob McDonnell. As the very popular governor of a swing, southern state, he balances out a Romney ticket very well. Virginia is a must win state in November, and adding him helps Romney here. As a southern Governor, he isn’t tainted by Washington and he plays into Romney’s anti-Washington theme. As a Catholic who graduated from Regent, he can appeal to both evangelicals and Catholic voters who may be concerned about Romney’s religion. Virginia’s record of job creation and business climate plays into Romney’s theme of relying on the private sector, rather than government, to push the economy. He’s smart, he’s articulate, and he can do the job. As Governor of one of the largest and most prosperous states in the union, no one can argue that he isn’t ready to be President. He’s also a veteran, with a daughter who served in Iraq. He’s the safe, thoughtful, smart choice. He is the perfect compliment to Romney’s biography.

I, for one, am looking forward to a Romney/McDonnell ticket. It represents out best chance of beating the President. We don’t need gimmicks or identity politics to make this decision. We need competence and integrity, and that’s Bob McDonnell.

In fact, if Mr. Schoeneman limited his argument to his last two paragraphs I would gladly applaud Schoeneman’s piece as a superb and persuasive endorsement for the Commonwealth’s favorite son.  Unfortunately, it’s what precedes this conclusion that I must take issue with.

Schoeneman seems to believe that in order to promote McDonnell he must tear down the other folks on the short list.  While I certainly have no problem with criticizing fellow Republicans (within reason) Schoeneman’s approach leads one to infer that this is necessary to compensate for McDonnell’s weaknesses.

Yes, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) lacks experience in Washington (and at the same time Washington experience is bad?).  However, Schoeneman chooses to overlook his experience as Speaker of the Florida House (no mean feat).  Arguing that everyone who serves (or has served) in Congress is also a foolish argument.  That, and some vague “Bush fatigue” argument seems to be the reason Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is unfit.

Dismissing New Jersey governor Chris Christie because he would be “another moderate northeasterner” (like Romney) helps to promote further discussion of Romney as the “Etch-A-Sketch” candidate (the big reason Romney still can’t close the deal with movement conservatives).  Schoeneman is correct that Christie probably isn’t “willing to play second fiddle to Romney” and should have left it at that.

Former governor “Etch-A-Sketch” also comes to mind when Schoeneman attempts to dismiss Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).  Dismissing him because his budget plan has been “vilified” by Democrats really doesn’t work when Romney has endorsed Ryan’s budget plan.  Trying to make a vague equivalence between a Romney-Ryan ticket and Goldwater-Miller (1964) is ridiculous.  Schoeneman would probably argue that this wasn’t what he was doing.  If not, why bring it up?

Schoeneman’s approach against New Mexico governor Susana Martinez is the one I find disturbing:

Martinez is, in my opinion, a non-starter. While she’s a fresh face and a rising star in Republican circles, she has many of the same problems Sarah Palin has. Namely, she’s got very little experience in office. Before being elected Governor of New Mexico, she was an elected prosecutor. She’s been on the job for a little over a year, which raises questions as to whether she’s ready to be President. She also has a vetting problem on illegal immigration, given the questions raised about her grandparents immigration status that plagued her during her campaign. You can rest assured that the Romney campaign is going to want to steer away from choosing a candidate that brings any potential negatives like that to the campaign, and especially given the Palin experience in 2008. Finally, she’s said in no uncertain terms that she wouldn’t accept the job if offered to her, so that takes her out of the running.

However, we shouldn’t be surprised because IF Gov. Martinez were willing to be Vice President (she has stated many times, in no uncertain terms, that she will complete her term as governor) it would be game over.  Martinez is Hispanic.  She’s an Hispanic WOMAN.  She has shown that she can win Democrat voters.  She is not only fiscally conservative, but a social conservative – and doesn’t feel the need to pander on those issues (can we say “Ronald Reagan”?).  While she has only been in office for one year, McDonnell has just over a year’s more experience as governor.  However, it is Schoeneman’s comment about the immigration status of Martinez’s grandparents that I find distasteful.  Did Martinez’s grandparents enter this country legally?  Who knows?  More importantly, who cares?  Martinez was born in El Paso and is as American as Tex-Mex cuisine (and apple pie).  That tactic against Martinez worked so well that she was elected governor in an overwhelmingly Democrat state.

Why would Schoeneman, who writes well thought out op-ed, take this tack?  I hope (believe) that it is motivated by the excitement of a Virginian possibly joining a national ticket.  I can appreciate a little regional jingoism.  McDonnell has been a superb governor.  While I don’t believe that he has been as great a governor as George Allen was, he’s better than Jim Gilmore was and far, far better than any recent Democrat.  McDonnell would be an excellent choice as Romney’s running mate.  So would each one of the individuals which Schoeneman dismisses out of hand.

I would hope that Schoeneman goes back to using the pages of Bearing Drift for other purposes than a tryout for the staff of “Romney-O’Donnell ‘12”.


“The Commonwealth” provides a glimpse into issues affecting the Old Dominion.

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  1. I’m sorry you found the comments regarding Martinez’ immigration status distasteful. My point there was simply that this is a potential vetting issue, and one that was a big distraction in her race for Governor. While it doesn’t really matter whether her grandparents were legal or illegal, in my opinion, it is something that will cloud the background check and may disqualify her if Romney is trying to get a Vice Presidential running mate that doesn’t have any baggage that will blow up at an inopportune time during the campaign.

    It’s not a knock against her, simply something that’s out there that will be a part of any race she’s involved in. And given the President’s willingness to attack anything remotely controversial, regardless of how relevant, it’s something to worry about.

    As for her being an Hispanic woman, I don’t think any of that matters. We’re Republicans – we don’t need to play identity politics like the Democrats do. I care more about competence, and that’s where McDonnell wins the prize.

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