The Bland, The Bad & The Ugly: A Look Back At Who Mitt Romney Could’ve Picked As His Running Mate

Before Ryan (right) was tapped, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie were bandied about as potential running mates for Mitt Romney
As the Romney/Ryan machine rolls on to the November election, we thought we’d take a look back at our profiles of some of the contenders who Mitt could have selected as his running mate. Some might have made a better (if not cuter) choice than Paul Ryan, others might have been worse (though more entertaining) options.  Remember, these folks were potentially a heartbeat away from being the Deciderer in Chief. Click through to take a stroll through VP memory lane If politics were like fantasy-league baseball, who would you have slotted in with Romney? Vote your conscience in the comments! Feature photo: Donkey Hotey  

Rob Portman

A Republican senator from Ohio, Portman has a perfect track record on gay issues—perfectly odious, that is.  He’s voted against marriage equality, gay adoption and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. His anti-gay positions led to graduates walking out when he gave the commencement address at the University of Michigan Law School in 2011. Portman may help Romney in a key swing state, but the Senator has some significant negatives as well. He served as George W. Bush’s budget director—and we all know how well that worked out.  One sign that Portman has the skill set needed for the job: When asked in a recent interview if Republicans were anti-gay, he was able to respond with a straight face, “I don’t think Mitt Romney is anti-anything.” Photo via  

Marco Rubio

The freshman senator from Florida would certainly attract attention as the first Latino VP candidate—and give Romney a boost in another key swing state. And when it comes to gay issues, Rubio knows how to pander as well as the best of them: He recently accused President Obama of using his support of marriage equality as a way to push Republicans into the trap of “trying to prove we’re not haters.”  Why would anyone suppose Rubio is a “hater”? It couldn’t possibly have to do with his opposition to marriage equality, federal nondiscrimination laws and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, could it?

Like Portman, Rubio carries some extra baggage: His son-of-Cuban-exiles story took a hit when it turned out his parents left Cuba before Castro assumed power. He’s had significant personal financial problems that include foreclosure. Plus, at age 40, he may lack the gravitas that voters expect from someone a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore  

Chris Christie

The governor of New Jersey and the butt of more fat jokes than Kirstie Alley, Christie has the love of the Tea Party base because he likes to yell at his constituents when he disagrees with them. As a Republican in the increasingly Democratic Northeast, Christie also appeals to pundits who argue he has a relatively moderate record that resonates with independent voters.

Of course, moderate is a relative term: Christie vetoed a marriage-equality bill on the grounds that the public should vote on minority groups’ civil rights. Christie says that he just vetoed gay marriage, not gay rights. We’re relieved to know there’s a distinction. Photo credit: David Shankbone  

Tim Pawlenty Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, had a short-lived run for the presidential nomination last year. He may have left too early: given how long it took for Romney to beat back the competition, Pawlenty could have emerged as a credible alternative. As a presidential candidate, Pawlenty tried to establish his conservative credentials by calling for a return of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and suggesting that climate change and homosexuality were alike. The effort didn’t work—Pawlenty was gone from the race by August and threw his support behind Romney. More recently, he’s been saying he has absolutely no interest in being Romney’s VP choice—a sure sign of interest. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore  

Rob McDonnell The Republican governor of Virginia promises the state won’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, so why would we need a law when we have his word? And those laws that we do have—like the one banning gay adoption—we shouldn’t want to repeal. That kind of weasely approach would be just in line with Romney’s. Plus, Virginia is another swing state that Republicans would love to take back in 2012. On the down side, McDonnell supported a bill that would have mandated invasive ultrasounds for women considering an abortion, earning him the nickname “Governor Vaginal Probe.” No one with a moniker like that has run for national office yet, but it’s a safe bet that it wouldn’t play well on either side of the aisle. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore  

Kelly Ayotte Ayotte, the freshman Republican Senator from New Hampshire, has been making the rounds with Romney in an effort to bolster Mitt with women. She certainly has the anti-gay creds to be on the ticket: She wants to repeal the state’s marriage-equality law and ban gay adoption. But other than homophobia, she may not have much to offer Mitt. Ayotte comes from a small state next door to the one where Romney was once a liberal, gay-friendly governor. And as someone with just two years in the Senate, Ayotte would be hard pressed to live down the memory of another two-year-rookie brunette that was a GOP veep nominee just four years ago. Photo via  

Mitch Daniels Like Portman, the governor of Indiana shares some credit for the wild success of the George W. Bush presidency: In Daniels’ case, he was Republican head of the Office of Management and Budget, a handy credential to use in an election—if you’re a Democrat trying to attack the GOP ticket. Daniels won the enmity of the right wing last year when he suggested that the party call a “truce” on social issues in order to focus on the economy: “We wouldn’t stop our disagreements or our passionate belief in these other questions, we just sort of mute them for a little while, while we try to come together on the thing that menaces us all,” said Daniels. For religious conservatives, this was the equivalent of surrender. Daniels backpedaled, but it’s a slight that won’t be forgotten: He’s also said he would “disconnect the phone” if Romney called with the VP offer. Apparently no one informed him about cell-phones. Photo credit: Ray Taylor  

Bobby Jindal The governor of Lousiana had a less-than-auspicious national debut when he served up the GOP response to President Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress: Being compared to Kenneth from 30 Rock is not the way to advance your political career. Still, Jindal has managed to regain some credibility in the party by his performance during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Having some ethnic diversity on the ticket would help Republicans beat back those nasty accusations that the right hates Obama because he’s “Kenyan.” For his part, Jindal has shown he’s just one of the guys: In 2008, he opted not to renew Louisiana’s nondiscrimination protections, proving that he can be just as homophobic as the rest of the party. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore  

Jeb Bush You would think that having a Bush on the ticket for six of the last eight presidential elections would be enough, but lots of folks think the former governor of Florida would be the ideal running mate for Romney. It’s not clear that George W’s brother would fit into the party landscape, though— despite his opposition to marriage equality and hate-crime laws. Jeb said he found the GOP presidential debates “troubling” because of their appeal to “people’s fears.” More recently, he said that gay marriage is a “distraction” from the real campaign issue of the economy. That may make sense politically, but it’s not the kind of red-meat rhetoric the base wants to hear. Photo credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  

Sarah Palin The half-term governor from Alaska probably has zero chance of being Romney’s running mate, but it sure is fun to contemplate the notion. Since doing her best to rain disaster down on the GOP ticket in 2008, Palin has fancied herself the right-wing equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, selecting a series of anti-gay candidates—Christine O’Donnell, anyone?—while cashing in with a series of goofy ideas to bolster the family checking account. But there have been some tantalizing hints that Palin may not be quite as homophobic as the rest of the party: There’s the time she retweeted a comment that suggested she supported repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She also seem to have no problem with GOProud attending CPAC, even after support for banning the group became a litmus test for the right. Of course, imagining Sarah going all pro-gay rogue on Mitt is fun, but there’s still that heartbeat-away business that we can’t quite get beyond. Photo credit: David Shankbone  

  Donald Trump Apparently, the Donald thinks he should be vice president, a perch from which he can launch an in-depth investigation of Obama’s birthplace, host a reality show, and prove that the Earth is flat. Of course, it’s a lot more fun to cover Trump than the issues, so the media (including Queerty) will keep speculating about Trump’s future. The association with Trump doesn’t make Romney look very presidential, to say the least. One thing Trump and Romney have in common, though, is an uncanny ability to change positions at will. Before become a conservative darling, Trump had expressed support for legal protections for gay couples. Of course, Trump may not qualify as a VP choice because the nominee will have to have been born in America and it’s not clear from his current behavior that Trump ever resided in our universe. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore  


The Romneys’ Irish setter proved he has the right stuff to be on the ticket when Mitt tied his crate to the top of the family car, then drove off on the highway for 12 hours. The petrified dog shit all over itself, which Romney kindly remedied by hosing it down and hoisting back onto the roof.

This is pretty much what the actual VP candidate will endure on the Romney ticket, so why not just go with the one being that has the experience to handle it?


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  • GordonSoleil

    Seriously, guys?

    This is just a repost of this June post. If you’re going to do a retrospective on the old VP shortlist, why not bother to update it with what they’ve been doing recently?

  • dvlaries

    Agreed. If weekends mean reruns, let’s see the Alessandro Calza or Dallas Walker sets.

  • JDJase

    Next weekend’s post: “A look back at all the interesting, relevant things Queerty COULD have written about, but didn’t”

  • jeff4justice

    Queerty ignores info on alternative party options (the real progressives) and rehashes more ways to keep LGBTs fearful. Lame.

    BTW, I think it’s kinds funny, kinda sad how Prop 8 lawyer Ted Olson is once again throwing LGBTs under a bus by helping the GOP win in November.

    I’m remembering how Democrats helped GWB vote in Alito and Roberts when Bush was Prez.

    Gay Ince mega groups and the media have ignored alternative party options who have been 100% supportive of equality (Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson) and now we’re getting a dose of how that feels with Olson.

    Karma : )

  • the other Greg

    @jeff4justice: I have to agree with you (sort of reluctantly!) that Gary Johnson deserves more media attention. He’s the former governor of a state.

    Dr. Jill Stein was once an elected town council member of a la-te-da upper-middle-class suburb of Boston.

    Who’s Rocky Anderson?

Comments are closed.