On the vice presidential level, Republicans already are gushing over the sheer diversity of the candidates—unprecedented in terms of race, gender, geography and political experience — who could fill out the 2012 ticket.
Even if the class of 2010 is not yet ready to run for president, the range of new officeholders elected in just the past two years assures that the Republican nominee will be able to offset virtually any perceived shortcoming with a running mate who compensates for it.
A candidate light on federal experience could tap Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, perhaps the best-credentialed Republican in the country as a former congressman, budget director and trade representative. A nominee who’s viewed as too conservative could pick a governor from a state Obama won in 2009, like New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Virginia’s Bob McDonnell or Michigan’s Rick Snyder.
For a candidate who struggles to connect with women voters, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire or Govs. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Susana Martinez of New Mexico might help broaden the GOP’s reach. Martinez, along with Florida’s Marco Rubio and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, could help a nominee who’s unappealing to Hispanics.
And if the nominee has trouble firing up conservatives, nearly all the previously mentioned names would likely do the trick, as would a prominent state leader such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry.