Mitt Romney's five-state sweep Tuesday night confirms that Republicans have done it again. They've picked the next white guy in line to be their leader.
Every four years, the GOP pretends to hold a rigorous presidential primary campaign, only to come up with a nominee who is inevitably the next guy whose turn it is.
Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, both George Bushes, Bob Dole, John McCain, and now Mitt Romney were all the next white guy in line when they secured the GOP nomination. As the old saying goes, Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line.
Now that the media have declared Romney the presumptive nominee, he will start thinking about a running mate. Republicans usually pick someone who can help the nominee overcome some perceived weakness. For example, the ultra-conservative Reagan picked country club establishment Republican George Bush. The "out-of-touch" Bush then picked the younger, physically "attractive" Dan Quayle to — and this is a true story -- appeal to women voters. Dole, an aging Kansas moderate, picked the youthful, more conservative Jack Kemp to burnish his credentials. The younger Bush, an untested Texas governor, picked the battle-tested Washington insider Dick Cheney as his running mate. And of course, John McCain, one of the oldest of the white men, famously picked a young upstart named Sarah Palin.
This is where Republicans really fall in line. No matter how unqualified or unknown the running mate may be, the Republicans all put on a fake grin and pretend they really like the running mate as they go out and try to sell them to the public, just as they did with Quayle and Palin. Republicans are really good at lying, much better than the Democrats.
I remember covering the Democratic convention for BET four years ago when Democrats nominated Barack Obama. The day after Obama's electrifying acceptance speech, McCain tried to steal Obama's thunder and post-convention bounce by announcing his choice of Palin. On television that day, I immediately denounced her as the most unqualified candidate I could remember in my lifetime. Meanwhile, my Republican debating partner gamely defended the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, as though she were an American version of Margaret Thatcher. As I said, Republicans are really good at lying. But history shows who won that argument.
This fall, Romney's running mate will take on several challenging tasks: motivate the base, appeal to Independents, attract women and Latinos, and don't become a distraction. And maybe, but this rarely happens, the person can help Romney win in the running mate's home state.
To be honest, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may be the best pick for the job. She would likely appeal to Independents, women, African Americans and other minorities. Rice is the new Colin Powell for Republicans. But, like Powell in 1996, she's not interested in the job, and her domestic policy views (especially a women's right to choose) are at odds with the Republican platform and the right-wing conservative agenda. Remember, Republicans believe women should be able to choose whether to stay at home and take care of their children, but not whether to have children in the first place.
I don't expect Sen. Marco Rubio to get the call either. Rubio, a 40-year-old lawyer with only one year's experience in the U.S. Senate, will underscore just how inexperienced Romney is as well. Since Romney has no federal government experience either, the two men would come to the election with less Washington experience than any major party ticket since 1948.
Ditto for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, another 40-year-old Republican with little national experience. She won't be picked either.
Bobby Jindal, also 40, has a little more experience than Rubio or Haley, but his first venture into the national spotlight was a disaster when he delivered a widely criticized GOP response speech to Obama's 2009 State of the Union.
I predict Romney will pick a white male running mate. Don't expect an exciting "game change" selection like Sarah Palin. We've seen that movie before.
Instead, we might get a Rob Portman (most likely) or a Mitch Daniels (somewhat likely) or a Bob McDonnell (not terribly likely) or even a Jeb Bush (even less likely). No matter who Romney picks, it will be somebody safe and dull and unexciting.
Romney is a cold, calculating politician. He's not a risk-taking gambler like McCain. So he will look at the numbers and pick who he thinks is the best man (and it likely will be a man) for the job. All others need not apply.
Keith Boykin is a New York Times best-selling author and former White House aide to President Clinton. He attended Harvard Law School with President Barack Obama and currently serves as a TV political commentator. He writes political commentary for BET.com each week.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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