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By Jim Malewitz, Stateline Staff Writer
Mitt Romney is expected to soon announce his pick for a running mate, and several governors remain on the short list of possibilities.
On Monday (July 16), a top adviser to the presumptive GOP nominee told the Associated Press the campaign could announce its pick by the end of the week. And the campaign had previously said it would pick a vice presidential candidate before the party’s convention in late August.
But what type of candidate will Romney choose? The safe, but some say boring Tim Pawlenty? The former Minnesota Governor, once a Romney enemy who complained about his health care policy as governor of Massachusetts, has since become one of the candidate’s biggest supporters, as The New York Times reported Sunday.
Pawlenty has been criticized for a perceived inability to ignite passion from a crowd, but some Romney associates say the son of a truck driver and University of Minnesota graduate could boost the Romney ticket’s credibility in the working class, helping to deflect attention from the candidate’s privileged roots.
“He’s not elite in any sense of the word,” Ray Washburne, a Dallas businessman who began helping Romney’s campaign after Pawlenty left the race, said, according to the Times.
Stock appears to be rising for another governor, Governor Bobby Jindal, of Louisiana, who has rebuilt his image after his widely criticized response to Barack Obama’s 2009 State of the Union address -- a televised response that many panned as uncharismatic and awkward.
Since then, as The Washington Post reported Sunday, Jindal has scored points among conservatives for his handling of the 2010 Gulf Oil spill and his loud criticism of the Obama administration’s health care policy. Several political analysts are convinced Jindal could ignite the GOP’s evangelical base.
“Jindal would be very, very well received among evangelicals. I hear nothing but rave reviews from evangelicals in Louisiana about how he has given them access and developed a relationship that is better than any other governor that they have ever had,” Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, told The Post. “And he also counterbalances the elitist claim (because) he is an up-from-the-ranks guy, and it helps to have someone on the ticket who is from Main Street, not Wall Street.”
Meanwhile, though Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s name continues to come up amid the speculation, his star seems to be fading even as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, as Politico reported last week. This is in spite of an improving state economy and his in-state poling numbers that remain solid.
That’s largely because of McDonnell’s refusal last session to sign a bill that would have required women seeking abortions to use an invasive transvaginal ultrasound beforehand, rather than an abdominal procedure. Although he ultimately signed legislation requiring less invasive ultrasounds, evangelicals saw the move as backtracking on abortion policy.