Veepstakes: Romney Edition

Politico’s Mike Allen is reporting that Mitt Romney is the “top” choice for John McCain’s VP. This seems like one of the most likely picks to me (I’d still put my money on Pawlenty if I were so inclined), but it’s easily the worst pick McCain could make.

For starters, as Allen reports the main consideration is money, or more to the point Romney’s ability to raise lots of it. But in this respect I agree with Noam, Romney’s fundraising prowess doesn’t really make much of a difference with McCain in the public financing system. Now he could of course opt out of the system, but that creates a host of other problems. It could be spun, to be sure, but it would at least take one of a very limited number of angles of attack out of McCain’s arsenal, and time would have to be devoted to said spin. And of course there’s the nagging little detail that, despite any financial advantage, Romney lost the primary to the financial anemic John McCain, losing pretty much every contest of importance (New Hampshire, Florida, and California) where the 2 squared off directly in short order.

But more problematic than that would be the electoral implications. The simple fact of the matter is that evangelical voters hate Mitt Romney. Whether it was skepticism about his social conservative bona fides or no more complicated than anti-Mormon bigotry, either way the group that, arguably, makes up the most important aspect of the GOP’s electoral base (white evangelicals were 23% of the electorate in 2004 and went 80:20 for Bush) doesn’t like the guy, which is even more problematic when you consider they’re already, shall we say, unenthused about John McCain. Even if McCain doesn’t want to pander with a pick like Mike Huckabee or Mark Sanford, he probably shouldn’t go for someone that’s going to be downright antagonistic towards the religious right, especially with a good Southern boy with a Christianist track record like Bob Barr looming as an alternative for bible thumping voters.