Now that the GOP presidential primaries effectively are over, it's on to Tampa for Mitt Romney and the Republicans. The only question up for grabs now is, who will the presumptive nominee select as his running mate? My pick is Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, but more about that later.
Geography and ideology have played important, but not always critical, roles in naming vice presidential running mates. It didn't matter much to George W. Bush that his pick, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, was from Wyoming. Ditto for Barack Obama. He chose the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee chair Joe Biden of Delaware. What Bush and Obama each needed most was a Washington insider on the ticket. I'm sure going rogue, as former GOP running mate Sarah Palin is fond of saying, never crossed their minds.
As Jeff Greenfield recently reported, " ... the critical factor is less about the running mate and more about what the presidential candidate wants voters to think about himself." This insight explains why Ronald Reagan, who never thought of himself as an ideological zealot, chose moderate George H. W. Bush to be on the ticket with him, and why Al Gore, himself Bill Clinton's vice president for 8 years, needed to be his own man. He selected outspoken Clinton critic, Sen. Joe Lieberman, to be his running mate.