If Mr. Romney were to pick a more moderate Republican, one potential choice stands out: Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada. Nevada, like Ohio, is a swing state. It contains fewer electoral votes than Ohio, but Mr. Sandoval is considerably more popular back at home than the relatively anonymous Mr. Portman — so the pick could have about the same electoral impact.
Mr. Sandoval, also, is Hispanic, at a time when Mr. Romney has struggled to pick up any support among that group of voters.
But Mr. Sandoval favors abortion rights. “I am pro-choice; I oppose partial-birth abortion, late term abortion and federal funding for abortion,” he writes on his Web site. Mr. Sandoval also favors domestic partnerships for same-sex couples, but not same-sex marriage.
Although Mr. Sandoval is fairly conservative on many other issues, his abortion position alone would make him a huge risk with Republican activists — especially if they have their hearts set on Mr. Ryan. There could be fireworks at the convention. It might actually be worth covering as a news event, for a change.
And Mr. Sandoval is risky in some other ways. With less than two full years in office, and hailing from a low-population state, he would be making a huge jump to the national stage.
But if Mr. Romney wants to take a risk, Mr. Sandoval would also present considerable upside. One drag on Mr. Romney is that the Republican Party is unpopular. Presenting someone who is a fresh face to voters in all senses of the term — demographically, ideologically and otherwise — could mitigate that.
Veeps are like proctologists: first do no harm when your job is dealing with assholes. In that respect, I think that while Nate makes an eminently logical point here, the reality is that a pro-life Republican on the national stage of the GOP has the political lifespan in 2012 of a fruit fly made out of snowflakes dropped into a volcano from atmospheric reentry. They wouldn't burn Romney in effigy, they'd burn him in person.
Second, Paul Ryan was the choice because Romney's going to want an attack dog, and Romney's idea of an attack dog is Paul Ryan, sort of a mildly insulting, cold-blooded accountant type. That's who went around delivering the bad news in Romney's world for 25 years at Bain, bureaucratic hatchet men. Nobody's going to be better at telling America that anyone under 50 today will never see a dime of Social Security or Medicare once the GOP gets through than Paul Ryan, folks.
Still, on paper Sandoval is a pro-choice Latino Republican. He's exactly who Mitt Romney would need in order to win in a world where the Republican Party wasn't so completely bugnuts insane, so I respect the pick.
I just think this is Nate being a bit too Ivory Tower here again. Reality proved who's running Romney and the GOP, and it's not the sane people.