, WASHINGTON, Apr 12 – With the vice president just a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, a White House nominee’s choice of running mate is among the most important of his or her candidacy.
Here is a short-list of possible VP choices for Mitt Romney, the all-but-certain Republican Party nominee who will challenge President Barack Obama in November’s election.
MARCO RUBIO, 40, US senator from Florida:
There are few better ways to dent Obama’s re-election hopes than to neutralize his command of the Hispanic vote, and there are few Hispanics on a higher national trajectory than Rubio.
The son of Cuban immigrants oozes charisma, can campaign in fluent Spanish, comes from a huge battleground state, and has support from the conservative Tea Party movement. But he is a young, freshman senator with little national experience – exactly the qualities for which Republicans slammed Obama in 2008.
ROB PORTMAN, 56, US senator from Ohio:
This top official in the administration of George W. Bush has been confirmed twice to cabinet posts – US trade representative and director of Office of Management and Budget – meaning he’s been extensively vetted.
He could help carry Ohio, a must-win for any Republican candidate, and he’s considered a moderate who won’t rock the boat for Romney. But analysts say there’s a “boredom” factor to consider.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, 49, governor of New Jersey:
A lawyer by training, Christie heard loud entreaties to run for president. He demurred, saying he was enjoying his job as governor too much. While he has since said he’d entertain being running mate to Romney, whom he has endorsed, Christie can be brash, blunt and rough around the edges.
SUSANA MARTINEZ, 52, governor of New Mexico:
As the nation’s first Hispanic female governor, Martinez has seen speculation about her as a top “veep” candidate soar. She would check many boxes for Romney, including the need to court women and Latinos.
But she has sworn off the job, and her political narrative – popular new governor from a small state who has little national exposure — may be too similar to that of Sarah Palin in 2008.
PAUL RYAN, 42, US congressman from Wisconsin:
The House Budget Committee chairman commands attention thanks to his controversial budget passed by the House last month. Romney has endorsed the plan and campaigned with Ryan for several days, a move some saw as a test run for a Romney-Ryan ticket.
Ryan’s command of budgetary matters is a plus, but if the Supreme Court upholds as constitutional Obama’s health care reform law, which the Ryan plan wants scrapped, he could look more like a liability than an asset.
BOBBY JINDAL, 40, governor of Louisiana
The former US congressman of Indian descent distinguished himself during the 2010 Gulf oil spill which impacted his state. As an ethnic minority he’d bring diversity to the ticket, while as a southern conservative he could woo the party’s core voters.
MITCH DANIELS, 62, governor of Indiana:
This former budget director in the Bush administration has won plaudits for undertaking budget reform in his state. Now in his second term as governor, he declined a presidential run earlier this year.
NIKKI HALEY, 40, governor of South Carolina:
One of the earliest major Republican figures to endorse Romney, this daughter of Indian immigrants is South Carolina’s first female and minority governor. She also has heavy Tea Party support.