This tallest dwarf contest is said to be down to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, none of whom would send voters into a tizzy.
Yet the longing for Palinesque excitement is not dead as William Kristol emerges to propose Condoleeza Rice. In 2008, at a lunch in the Alaska governor's mansion, Kristol and other Neo-Cons were smitten over halibut cheeks. A few weeks later, a boatload from the National Review shared salmon with Palin and had a similar reaction.
Kristol takes heart from Ann Romney’s comment over “loving that option” of a woman on the ticket, but despite Rice’s prospect as a demographic twofer (gender and race), the GOP is not likely to want to remind voters of its forgotten man, George W. Bush.
Still, as the Romney campaign struggles to get back into the mainstream from a series of stumbles and gaffes, the choice of VP may start to look like an opportunity that goes beyond playing it safe.
For that, the most tempting choice would be Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. He would, at the very least, halt Romney’s slide with Latino voters after a year of immigrant-bashing in the Republican debates.
The 40-year-old son of Cuban exiles has candidate written all over him. A Catholic, married to a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader and father of four, he has been called “The First Catholic Protestant Senator” for ties to both his own church and evangelicals.
Even riskier might be New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but he would bring a straight-talk freshness that could draw independent voters who are put off by Romney’s robotic air.
One way or another, the choice will provide more detail in the 2012 Etch-a-Sketch of the Republican candidate. Playing it safe might be his riskiest option of all.