Last place in New Hampshire, is Rick Perry really gunning for VP?
Once the golden boy of the Tea Party and evangelical Christians alike, Rick Perry's campaign seemed dead in the water after the Texas governor finished fifth place in the Iowa caucus with just over 10 percent of the vote. Even though he skipped campaigning at the New Hampshire primary, it can't be good when a serious, well-funded candidate gets less than one percent of the vote.
(For comparison purposes, Perry got just over double the votes of Vermin Supreme, a performance artist who wears a boot on his head.)
Instead, Perry has doubled-down in South Carolina, whose primary is on Jan. 21. While it may be the most conservative of the early primary states, Perry has a tough case to make after his two losses and a campaign that's been marked by gaffes.
Though Perry is denying that the Palmetto state is his own personal Alamo, can he really plan on a comeback victory in the Old South, or is he playing a bigger game here? With his polling in South Carolina and Florida hovering around 6 percent, many are speculating that Perry is hanging around for the vice presidential slot.
Perry's conservative credentials, Southern geographic pull and platform as a job creator could be a boost to Romney, shoring up the base for a more moderate, Northern candidate.
But even among conservative Southerners, Perry has competition from Eric Cantor, Lindsay Graham and Haley Barbour. All of them have high name recognition, and none of them have interrupted Romney during a televised debate.
As Yahoo's Mark Whittington points out, "If Mitt Romney is the nominee, then the conventional wisdom is he will have to go south and go right for a vice presidential running mate. Presidential nominees from Massachusetts tend to go to Texas, or at least South, for their running mates. John F. Kennedy chose his rival, then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson from Texas. Michael Dukakis selected another man from Texas, then-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen."
But even among conservative Southerners, Perry has competition from Speaker of the House Eric Cantor (who's from Virginia), South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham and outgoing Mississippi governor Haley Barbour. (Though Barbour might have taken himself out of consideration this week when he pardoned several men convicted of murder. Voters do not like when you pardon killers — just ask Mike Huckabee.) All of them have high name recognition, and none of them have interrupted Romney during a televised debate.
In today's political map, choosing a red-state conservative might not make as much sense as choosing a running mate with the potential to pull in votes in a swing state, like Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, Rep. Paul Ryan in Wisconsin or Florida senator Marco Rubio.
If Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich captured the nomination, Rick Perry's credential's wouldn't have the same "balance-the-ticket" effect, but considering both candidates have campaigned on Romney not being conservative enough, either of them selecting a moderate seems unlikely.
Perry's (ever-increasing) pro-life politics could double down on Santorum's family values candidacy, and even Gingrich might find his camera-ready family and "Washington outsider" status useful. As for Ron Paul, I'm pretty sure he'd rather pick the ghost of Ayn Rand as his running mate, and frankly, I wouldn't put it past him.
But the question of Perry as VP comes down to whether he brings more negatives than positives to a ticket. After watching the slow-moving train wreck that was the Sarah Palin-Katie Couric interviews, Perry's propensity for "oops" moments should give any Republican strategist pause.
"I felt all along that Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee and that Rick Perry was at one point a potential vice presidential choice," James K. Galbraith, the Lloyd M. Bentsen chair in government at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, told Scripps. "But it seems to me to be a credible choice you have to show some strength outside the state [of Texas] and he's not showing that, so my guess is we're going to have him in Austin for a while longer."