Traditionally, presidential candidates announce their vice-presidential pick in the immediate run-up to their party’s convention. It provides a news jolt immediately before the gathering. And, the convention itself provides a large audience of the party’s rank-and-file members to show “excitement” over the pick. But, as many other things in this campaign, Romney needs to toss-out the traditional playbook. He should announce his pick before next Friday, when the Olympic games are scheduled to begin.
I can’t think of a bigger chaotic whirlwind in politics than being selected as a candidate’s running mate. The nominee is thrust onto the national stage with just days or even hours notice. The Presidential candidate has had years to prepare for the national spotlight and countless events along the campaign trail to hone his message and political skills. This isn’t necessarily true for a Veep pick.
Of course, its even worse for a GOP vice-presidential pick. As soon as the name is announced, the candidate will be engulfed in a media feeding-frenzy, with dozens of news organizations scurrying to unearth any and all negative information about the person’s past. One only needs to point to the media’s obsession and unhinged treatment of Sarah Palin in 2008 to get a flavor of what faces the Veep pick this year. It could be even worse this year, as the media’s preferred candidate, Barack Obama, is struggling in the polls.
Next Friday, the Olympic games start in London. For three weeks, huge swathes of the public will tune out politics or any other news not related to the sporting event. This is particularly true of those independent, swing voters who will be critical in deciding the victor in November. These voters don’t pay particularly close attention to politics even in normal news cycles. And, the Olympic games aren’t a normal news cycle.
Announcing his running-mate immediately before the start of the games would give Romney’s pick three weeks to hit the campaign trail and settle into his or her place on the ticket. Of course there will still be liberal political reporters doing all they can to upend Romney’s pick, but there won’t be much of an audience for their hit pieces. If Washington Post or Politico obsess over a nominee’s high school records, but no one is around to read it, does it even count?
The three week “cooling off period” would allow the Veep pick to prepare for the political fire-storm that will ramp up again after the conclusion of the games. The media’s knives will return with a vengeance then, but the nominee will be better prepared to fend them off.
There are signs that Romney may be moving in this direction. Today, the campaign announced that it had hired two senior staffers for key roles in the running mate’s staff. It’s a clear sign the campaign is getting close to announcing its VP pick. Here’s hoping this comes late next week.