For Veep Also-Rans, Eyes Turn to 2016

Bobby Jindal, Rob Portnman, and Chris Christie all were passed over for the second spot on the GOP ticket. All three were prominently mentioned as possibilities for the ticket the last fortnight before Mitt Romney tapped Paul Ryan for his running mate.


All three are serving politicians; Jindal and Christie are governors of Louisiana and New Jersey respectively while Portman holds down a Senate seat in Ohio. And since all of them harbor ambitions for the presidency, the disappointment at not getting selected was probably keenly felt by all.

But they’re hiding it well.

Jonathan Tilove, The Times-Picayune on Jindal’s future:

Whatever the outcome in November, Ryan now vaults to the head of the pack as the prospective party nominee after either a Romney presidency or a Romney defeat, and at 42, and only 1 year, four months and 12 days older than Jindal, he robs the Louisiana governor of what had been his unique standing as the brainy boy wunderkind of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.


“Win or lose, Jindal may have to wait much longer now for his shot at the White House,” said Bob Mann, a professor of mass communications at LSU and old Democratic political hand. “Romney wins, Jindal has to wait at least eight years to run. Romney loses, Ryan may well be the frontrunner in ’16. The best, perhaps, he can hope for now is a Cabinet spot or a Senate seat in ’14.”

Immediately on the news of the Ryan choice, Jindal disclaimed any interest in a Cabinet post.

“No, I would not consider a Cabinet post,” the governor said in a statement. “I consider being the governor of Louisiana to be more important and the best job there is. Don’t mistake my motives here. I have been traveling all over the country and been campaigning for and with Governor Romney because it is crucial that he wins, and that we make Barack Obama a one-term President. As for me – why would a guy with the best job in the world be looking for another one?”


The Senate is a poor base from which to launch a bid for the presidency, although recently — Barack Obama and John McCain — it hasn’t been that bad. What Jindal has over both those gentlemen is that he has already served as an executive. A Senate run would burnish his foreign policy credentials while giving him an entre with national money men — the guys who can raise serious money for a presidential race.

Christie has pretty much the same options facing him. Jarrett Renshaw of New

While some have speculated that a victorious Romney could select Christie as his attorney general, most believe he’ll run for reelection next year.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Morris) said having Christie remain in the state is good for the party. “My goal as the leader of the Republican Assembly is to pick up more seats and take the majority next year,” he said. “If it was Chris Christie (named as the vice presidential candidate), I wouldn’t be playing golf today,” Bramnick said.

A stable of Democrats believed to be considering a run against Christie for governor in 2013 capitalized on the news today. “With New Jersey ranked near the bottom of the nation in economic growth and unemployment rate, even Mitt Romney isn’t buying the Jersey Comeback,” said Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden).

If Romney wins the presidency, Christie’s White House ambitions would likely be put on ice until 2020. A Romney loss would immediately begin the scramble for 2016. Christie said last month that if the presidency is open in 2016, he’ll “certainly think about it.”

After the last two years, Christie is no stranger to speculation about the White House. John Weaver, chief strategist to U.S. Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, cautioned against such talk. “You have to treat politics like golf,” he said. “You can’t count hole No. 3 when you’re on hole No. 1.”


Good advice that Christie should listen to. Since the Ryan announcement, there has been a lot of speculation that Christie would be tapped to give the keynote address at the convention. His combative style would probably amp up the convention to a fever pitch, but Romney may have other notions of what’s important in a keynoter. We will probably know this week.

As for Portman, the Ohio Senator has a leg up on a lot of 2016 potentials given his vast experience in government. But he has yet to make much of a mark in the Senate — something that may change soon.

Henry Gomez of The Plain Dealer:

Back to normal for the Cincinnati-area Republican? Not a chance. Portman, 56, may have lost the so-called veepstakes, but thanks to nearly a year in the spotlight as a potential No. 2, his national profile is as high as it has ever been. And if the Romney-Ryan ticket loses to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in November, Portman won’t have the taint of defeat on him should he decide in 2016 to take a run for No. 1.

If the GOP reclaims the White House, Portman, a lawyer who served as a trade ambassador and budget director under George W. Bush, could snag a top Cabinet post.

Or, under either scenario, he could choose to stay in the Senate. Known for his pragmatism, Portman is well-liked on both sides of the aisle there and could compete for a leadership position or carve out a long-term niche as a Capitol Hill dealmaker.


Portman’s exclusion from the national ticket this time allows him time to marinate as a national figure. Had Romney chosen him, Democrats would have emphasized his work under Bush, whose economic policies remain a core target for Obama four years later.

The budget deficit ballooned from $161 billion before Portman took the Cabinet-level post directing Bush’s Office of Management and Budget in 2006 to $459 billion in 2008. Blame does not rest solely with Portman, who has argued that a Democratic-controlled Congress blocked the Bush administration’s goals for reducing the deficit. And in a recent interview with The Hill he attempted to distance himself from Bush by saying he was frustrated with the job.


These are three of the most capable and talented men in the Republican party. Each brings to the table a set of positives that recommend them to the people as presidential material.

But it is also true that not getting selected as Mitt Romney’s running mate could be a setback to their ambitions. How each man deals with it over the next 4 years will tell us much about them.


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