Likely Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is reportedly considering former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as his running mate for the 2012 election. While I admire Ms. Rice tremendously, I think Romney could choose a better vice-president partner.
The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, would solve many of Romney’s problems.
Rice is a liability on many fronts: as a close associate of former President George W. Bush, she is linked to one of the most unpopular chief executives in recent memory. Widely despised by liberals and Democrats, Bush seems to have few admirers among conservatives and Republicans as well.
Moreover, she served as Secretary of State during the launch of the Iraq war, a conflagration that virtually all Americans (regardless of ideology) believe has been a gigantic waste of time, money and lives.
Moreover, she has never held any elected office and is viewed principally as a policy egghead, not a charismatic candidate who can rally the troops of the beleaguered and fractured Republican Party.
Although Rice is black and a woman – two key sectors of the voting populace – these attributes are unlikely to help Romney much. He is trailing President Barack Obama badly among these demographics. Black Americans, 90 percent of whom voted for Obama in the last election, will clearly give him a similar overwhelming mandate in 2012. Rice won’t make a dent in that crucial constituency.
Rice is also a single woman who has never married – this may seem trivial, but it will make some on the extreme right of the GOP very unhappy, even if they like her political views.
She simply carries too much negative baggage, and Romney needs to make the “right” choice in order to have any hopes of winning what is shaping up to be a very tough campaign.
Enter Piyush ‘Bobby’ Jindal, the wunderkind governor of Louisiana.
Only 41 years of age, Jindal already has a resume that is much envied – a Rhodes Scholar, a health care czar by the time he was 25, president of a university, and a congressman.
As the son of Indian immigrants, Jindal would ease Romney’s image of being the candidate of rich, white, country club WASPs.
As the popular and energetic governor of a Deep South state, he also offers a nice geographical balance to Romney’s Northern roots.
Most importantly, Jindal is an old-fashioned fiscal conservative from the Ronald Reagan school – he would ease the concerns of a great many Republicans who don’t believe Romney is truly committed to GOP principles.
Jindal has an impeccable record and has already shown he is not afraid to attack Obama over the contentious Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (which is sure to be a dominant campaign theme).
“[Obamacare] really raises the question of what’s next, what’s allowable,” Jindal said. “Taxes on people who refuse to eat tofu or refuse to drive a Chevy Volt…this whole ruling I think is ridiculous. It’s a huge expansion of federal power.”
He added: Elections have consequences. Elections do, in fact, matter. This one matters a lot. We are not going to start implementing Obamacare.”
Jindal also blasted Obama on ideological grounds in a direct reference to what “American values” really are.
“The president, his administration, needs to understand what makes this country great in part is that we’re not dependent on government programs,” he told Fox News.
“It seems to me like the president measures success by how many people are on food stamp rolls and government-run health care. That’s not the American dream.”
Picking Jindal would also free Romney from the charge that he needs to “pander” to the electorate. By that I mean that if he chose a woman VP candidate or a black (Rice) or a Hispanic (Marco Rubio of Florida), it would be seen as a cynical ploy to try to siphon votes away from those groups. But Indian-Americans account for only 1 percent of the US population – even if every single Indian voter in the country voted for a Romney-Jindal ticket (which is highly doubtful anyway), that alone wouldn’t help Romney's chances at all.
Jindal would be the most strategic and principled VP choice Romney could make -- and one to create a lot of requisite buzz.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.