GOP kingmakers make their case for Romney's best 2012 running mate

Mitt Romney has kept his cards close to the vest about who he'll pick for his presidential running mate — but that hasn't stopped a number of Republican kingmakers from saying who they think Romney should pick.

A number have mentioned Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as their top choice. Others mentioned at least once include GOP Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Rand Paul (Ky.), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R).

No one touted former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who has loyally worked for Romney since his own campaign ended and is said to be in the running.

Here's a list of some top Republican movers and shakers — and who they want to see as Romney's vice presidential pick.

A number of other top Republicans declined to comment or offered a list of options, saying it was Romney’s decision to make and that they didn’t want to meddle. Those who declined to comment include former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), and Faith & Freedom Coalition President Ralph Reed, both of whom touted the GOP’s deep bench but refused to offer specifics on the record.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R): Rubio

“Marco would bring an incredible energy. He’s the most articulate spokesman for conservative principles I think in America today,” Bush told reporters in early May. “And he’s my friend, so I’m a little biased. But I think he would be extraordinary.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Ryan

"I'm biased for Paul," Walker told The Hill at a Thursday breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor in mid-June. "If you believe that the fiscal crisis facing our country is clearly one of our top challenges, I don't know of anybody, at least in this town, who's better equipped to help you deal with that, not just because of his plan but because he understands the dynamics. I think he's got credible respect on both sides of the aisle. … Far beyond that, he's just from Wisconsin — I think there's tremendous value to Paul."

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist: Jindal

“Romney would do well to have a wing man who can astutely explain the flaws in President Barack Obama’s policies and lay out the GOP’s innovative, pro-growth alternatives. There are many attractive prospects out there, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal can do not just all that, he has already implemented the sort of bold reforms at the state level that are now desperately needed at the federal level,” he wrote in Politico in mid-May.

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R): Rubio, Martinez, Portman

Barbour said last week that he was a "huge fan" of both Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) — two prominent Hispanic Republicans — and later mentioned Rubio as a strong option for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney to choose as vice president, adding that he didn't think a "running mate has a major impact on what people think" about the top of the ticket.

He also argued that the most important thing in picking a vice president was first to "do no harm," and second to pick someone who could help in a particular state — like Rubio could in Florida, Portman could in Ohio, Walker could in Wisconsin, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell could in his state — and said Virginia and Ohio were the most crucial states on the presidential map.

Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land: Rubio or Huckabee

“I personally think Rubio gives him the most bang for the buck especially in light of the president’s actions in regard to the children of undocumented workers, because Rubio was getting ready to drop something almost identical to that,” Land told The Hill earlier this week. “He’s got charisma in spades. And having the first Hispanic candidate on a national ticket is not an insignificant thing. And the second person who’d give him the most bang for the buck is Mike Huckabee. That 10-15% of evangelicals who’re hesitant to vote for a Mormon, you put Huckabee on the ticket and that’d go down to three or four percent.”

When asked if Pawlenty could also help with Evangelicals, Land said he wouldn’t have nearly the impact Huckabee would.

“No. Pawlenty would have some effect but not the same effect as Mike, he’s a lot better known. Pawlenty would be fine, Portman would be fine. It’s just got to be someone who’s prolife. And I think Rubio and Huckabee would give him the most bang for the buck,” he said.

Conservative columnist George Will: Ryan, Jindal

“Ryan already is at the center of the campaign and is the world’s foremost expert on the Ryan-Romney plan. No one is more marinated in the facts to which Obama is averse. Ryan has not yet honed his rhetorical skills for communicating complexities to laypersons, but he is a quick study. One drawback is that he is invaluable as chairman of the Budget Committee and in 2015 might become chairman of Ways and Means,” Will wrote in The Washington Post in early April.

“Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal, 40, was a 20-year-old congressional staffer when he authored a substantial report on reforming Medicare financing. At 24, he became head of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals, with 12,000 employees and 40 percent of the state budget. Back in Washington at 26, he was executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. In 1999, he became president of Louisiana’s state university system, which has 80,000 students. In 2001, he served as an assistant secretary of health and human services. He became governor after three years in Congress.”

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (on boards of the Club for Growth and Faith & Freedom Coalition): Portman, Rubio

“Portman would lead my list. Right now so would Rubio,” he said. “Portman is the lead. He’s a friend. For me he’s a known personality all the way through. It would be foolish to look first at anyone but Portman. He brings a well-rounded portfolio of experience and leadership and accomplishments.”

60 Plus Association President Jim Martin: Rubio, Portman, Paul

“Rubio is a star, and Rand Paul is tremendous,” Martin told The Hill last week. “And Rob Portman is not the bland guy everyone says he is – he’s a tremendous guy, has a great heart, and he’s a people person.”

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