Four years ago Romney was the possible VP nominee, waiting and hoping that 2008 Republican nominee Sen. John McCain would pick him.
So Romney certainly knows what it’s like for the half a dozen or so folks Romney is vetting today.
As then-political editor of the Deseret News, I wrote a column four years ago about how McCain wouldn’t pick Romney as his running mate.
It was perhaps – based on reader responses – the most hated column I’d written in 20 years.
All sorts of folks wrote on the comment page about how stupid I was and didn’t know anything.
Well, I may be stupid. But I got that one right.
McCain picked, out of the blue, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
And the McCain presidential campaign went from bad to worse.
It was one of the rare examples in presidential campaign politics where the choice of a running mate actually made a difference. And not for the better.
McCain has said since that he knew his campaign was not going well and he needed a game changer.
Well, he got one with Palin.
Romney won’t be making a similar mistake.
Romney is not a risk-taker, like McCain is.
Romney will evaluate, calculate, recalculate, and then pick someone who won’t be offensive, who will be smart, and who won’t be controversial.
I don’t know who it will be, and I have no good guesses.
Political pundits are always saying that the nominee should pick someone who can help them politically – bring in a big state that’s in play for that particular year, like Ohio or Florida. Maybe even a not-so-big state like Colorado.
But look at recent running mate choices: President Barack Obama picked a U.S. senator from Delaware – three Electoral College votes and soundly in the Democratic column.
Former President George Bush picked a guy from Wyoming – three Electoral College votes and solidly Republican.
They weren’t looking for help in getting to 270 Electoral College votes.
Yes, way back in 1960 John F. Kennedy picked Lyndon Johnson, a Texan, to help him with the South.
But one can argue that going that direction – trying to help with one area of the country or another – can be just as hazardous as what McCain did.
The elder George Bush picked a young senator from Indiana who couldn’t spell “potato” and ended up the brunt of jokes for four years.
Here are a few ideas about what Romney won’t do:
-- He won’t pick a fellow Mormon.
At some point in this race, Romney will be attacked – or at least “exposed” – over his religion. Many Americans see members of the LDS faith as clickish and secretive. Romney won’t want to play into that hand.
-- He won’t pick a woman.
At some point the U.S. will have a female VP. But I don’t see Romney pushing that trend. Conservative and safe, that will be his road.
-- He won’t pick a moderate or liberal Republican. There are so few of those left on the national stage, anyway, there’s not a big pool to draw from.
-- He may pick an ethic or racial minority. But not someone who is “too” ethnic or racial – just a darker skin color and more inclusive attitude than the very “white bread” Romney.
Romney is now being questioned about some of his decision-making – his statements made abroad, his personal income tax returns, even putting his dog on the roof of his car.
It’s true that an out-of-office presidential nominee’s only really big decisions during a campaign is who he picks as his running mate and how he runs his campaign.
Romney’s campaign organization seems to be clicking along well enough.
So great focus is seen in whom he’ll pick to stand next to him on the final night of the upcoming national Republican Convention in Tampa Bay.
I’m thinking the women on the stage that night will be wives, daughters and in-laws, not candidates.
And the guy next to Romney will be some non-controversial face.
Easy as she goes, make few waves and keep water off the deck. That’s the Mitt Romney we in Utah know and expect to see throughout the rest of this campaign.