Who'll be Mitt's mate? The 'veep' race hots up

Republican hopes that guessing game over Vice Presidential candidate will deflect bad press

Packed though it may be with aides, pollsters and consultants, the campaign bus can be a lonely place for a candidate chasing the keys to the White House. But Mitt Romney, this year's Republican runner, is preparing at last to make some room in the front for someone to join him, hip-to-hip, for the rest of the journey.

Exactly when Mr Romney means to roll out the running mate he hopes will help him unseat President Barack Obama is a point of speculation almost as urgent as guessing who that person might be. "Person" is used advisedly. It's the word Mr Romney used in comments to NBC last week.

Cue cable television pundits' chorus: it's a woman! But any other hints about who he wants as the No 2 on his ticket were not forthcoming. "I certainly expect to have a person that has strength of character, a vision for the country that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country," the former Governor of Massachusetts averred flatly.

The Romney campaign has been actively stoking the Veepstakes suspense at a time when the campaign conversation has in all other respects not been kind to the candidate, particularly after he was seen to have botched his trip to Britain, Israel and Poland. They have even signed up supporters to a Veep-Pick smartphone app with the promise they will learn of his choice before anyone else. Users of the app will be especially vigilant this weekend as Mr Romney departs his Boston campaign headquarters for a high-profile bus tour of four key battleground states, starting with Virginia today and passing through North Carolina and Florida before ending in Ohio on Tuesday.

The window for the big reveal is getting narrow – it must happen before the Republican Party convention which opens in Tampa in two weeks.

The final decision rests with Mr Romney alone and in the end it could be that he picks someone the rest of us haven't thought about – a general, a mayor or an industrialist. There is a list of possibles and probables the media has settled on, but deciding who should be at its top continues to be a highly vexing game. A CNN poll says Republican voters favour Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American US Senator and Tea Party darling from Florida. The market site Intrade has its money on Rob Portman, a US Senator from Ohio, while the conservative wing of the party is pressing for Representative Paul Ryan.

Mr Ryan, the House budget chairman, is the author of his party's budget blueprint for the country that is as bold as it is controversial, taking a long blade to such sacred cow social programmes as Medicaid and Medicare. Conservatives think he will keep Mr Romney fiscally honest.

Another in the ring is Tim Pawlenty, a steady, if unexciting, former Governor of Minnesota who made his own run for the party nomination before dropping out last summer.

Any talk of a woman joining the ticket provokes nostalgic exchanges about the circus of bemusement – and some amusement – that erupted when, just four days before his convention in 2008, John McCain introduced the world to Sarah Palin. But Mr Romney is seen to have options that would invite no comparisons with the former Governor of Alaska. Among them would be Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State, Kelly Ayotte, a newcomer to the US Senate from New Hampshire, and Susana Martinez, the Governor of New Mexico.

Someone else who might placate the Tea Party wing is Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist evangelist who fought Mr McCain for the nomination four years ago. He is affable, articulate and socially conservative to his marrow. But now it is the Ryan star that seems to be burning the brightest, thanks to a big push from, among others, the editorial writers of the Wall Street Journal.

"The House budget chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group-dominated decline," the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper opined last week.

Runners and riders: The likely names

Rob Portman

Job Ohio senator

Pros A solid conservative, he would appeal to the Republican masses, and his experience as director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Bush administration makes him odds-on favourite to join Romney's ticket.

Cons Critics say he is, to put it politely, a tad dull.

Odds 2/1 (Ladbrokes)

Marco Rubio

Job Florida senator

Pros The favourite among Republican voters, Rubio is well liked in the Washington rumour-mill, and is doing well in the online betting stakes too. A Hispanic rising star of the Tea Party, he has wide appeal.

Cons As a first-term senator, he may lack the gravitas that others could lend to the Romney camp.

Odds 10/1

Susana Martinez

Job Governor of New Mexico

Pros Touted as one of the Republican Party's most popular governors, she has the added strengths of being Hispanic and a woman. She is still regarded as a possible surprise nomination, not least because Romney himself name-dropped her as a potential candidate in January.

Cons She has publicly stated that she is not interested in the post.

Odds 33/1

Paul Ryan

Job Wisconsin congressman

Pros Many speculated that the House Budget chairman's introduction for Romney after his victory at the Wisconsin primary, which attacked President Obama for his "broken promises", proved his might and perhaps even sealed the deal.

Cons Some Republican insiders now doubt that Ryan – a career politician – has what it takes.

Odds 4/1

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate