Romney Veepstakes: Who’s It Gonna Be?

The Republican National Convention in Tampa is just 17 days away, which means that Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney should be wrapping up his process for picking a running mate.

What say you, Polsters? Does Romney need to go bold in the face of concerning polling numbers? Or does he stay conservative (politically and image-wise)? Click below to cast your vote. Our 5 choices are taken from our friends at “The Fix.”

Who Will Romney Choose as His Running Mate?

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Herman Cain Takes Center Stage…Literally

The Republican candidates for President will debate again tonight in New Hampshire, and Herman Cain will take a prominent role on the stage. From our friends at “The Fix“:

A new Gallup national poll puts Cain in a statistical dead heat with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for first place. And in New Hampshire, Cain has moved into second place behind Romney, according to a new poll by Saint Anselm College and the Harvard Institute of Politics.

Cain’s newfound prominence is further affirmed by his central position on the debate stage itself – sandwiched between Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. [Pols emphasis] If Cain’s top-tier status is without question, what he will do with it in tonight’s debate is very much up in the air…

…What Cain does with his moment tonight will determine whether this is the beginning of a long run at (or near) the top of the field for him, or the beginning of the end of his moment in the spotlight.

Longtime “frontrunner” Mitt Romney is making headlines today, thanks to receiving the endorsement of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but tonight could end up being all about Cain. Putting Cain in the middle of the stage between Romney and Perry gives the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO a legitimacy that he has not yet enjoyed to this point in the race. If he does well in tonight’s debate, the race for the Republican nomination for President could look a lot different tomorrow.

Does Herman Cain Have a REAL Chance at the GOP Nomination?

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Chris Christie Really Probably Not Running for President

From our friends at “The Fix“:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has decided not to run for president in 2012, according to an source informed of his thinking.

Christie has called a 1 pm press conference in Trenton to announce the decision. He acknowledged in recent days that he was reconsidering his repeated refusals in the past to take a pass on the race. But, Christie was also quite open about his doubts about his readiness for the race and the challenges inherent in starting so late in the presidential process.

What Happened to Tim Pawlenty?

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty began campaigning for the Republican nomination for President as soon as the 2008 race ended with Barack Obama victorious. T-Paw was thought to be a strong potential candidate, a favorite among the Republican establishment as a popular politician from an important midwestern state.

So what happened? How did Pawlenty go from rising star to record-setter (as the fastest Presidential candidate to end a campaign following the Ames straw poll). Our friends at “The Fix” think Pawlenty’s failures were fundamentally about being the wrong type of candidate at the wrong time:

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty’s decision to drop out of the presidential race on Sunday – nearly six months before the first votes are set to be cast in the 2012 contest – was the result of a fundamental misreading of the Republican primary electorate and a failure to properly manage the expectations game.

Pawlenty’s presidential candidacy was an open secret in Republican political circles long before he made it official in late May. His recruitment of highlyprized staff talent earned him buzz in the early months of 2011 as he worked to emerge as the Republican alternative to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

But, problems soon became apparent.

Pawlenty’s demeanor – he was the definition of “Minnesota Nice” – didn’t fit with an electorate who wanted confrontation with President Obama at all costs. Pawlenty watched as Rep. Michele Bacmann soared past him in the race – channeling the anger of voters who saw compromise in any form as capitulation.

A stroll around the Ames Straw Poll on Saturday showed just how badly Pawlenty had miscalculated what the electorate was looking for.

Pawlenty wasn’t just boring — he was either unwilling or unable to take the shots at frontrunner Mitt Romney that he needed in order to get his own piece of the spotlight while casting himself as a real alternative to the former Massachusetts Governor. At the same time, he tried attacking Rep. Michele Bachmann, an unwise decision given her army of vociferous supporters (and T-Paw’s lack thereof). Pawlenty’s indecision on the type of candidate he wanted, or needed, to become was reflected in his fundraising; as Politico reports, his campaign was running on fumes:

Pawlenty was unable to raise a significant amount of money and spent much of what he did bring in on TV and radio in the lead-up to Ames. Pawlenty had originally hoped to emerge as the chief alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but he found himself pinned down in Iowa over the past six weeks trying to fend off the surging Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann…

…Pawlenty’s campaign initially signaled on Saturday night that he would try to move forward, but with his third-place finish here and with Texas Gov. Rick Perry getting in the race, it became clear to Pawlenty that he’d have trouble financing a campaign.

Pawlenty’s money issues are so dire, according to one campaign source, that he is going to have difficulty making payroll this week and may have to delay some payments.

So where does Pawlenty’s exit leave the Republican field? His endorsement is considered valuable, but he says he will definitely not be a candidate for Vice President. In the short term, his departure may hurt Romney more than his presence in the race ever did, because it makes Iowa a two-person battle between Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry (Romney thus far has decided not to compete in the land of corn). Regardless of the outcome, this is an interesting moment in the 2012 race because it’s the first departure by a legitimate contender.  

Romney Should Heed Clinton’s Fate On Inevitability

Interesting numbers in a new poll from Zogby released late yesterday. According to the results, Republican voters don’t really want Mitt Romney as their Presidential nominee…even though they seem convinced that he’ll be the guy:

Michele Bachmann continues to lead the field of announced Presidential candidates among Republican primary voters, but Rick Perry would be the top choice if he entered the race.

Mitt Romney trails both Bachmann and Herman Cain among announced candidates and falls even further back when Perry and Chris Christie are included. However, he continues to be seen by GOP voters as most likely to be the nominee. [Pols emphasis]

This is an interesting conundrum for Republicans. As we’ve said time and again in this space, most high-dollar donors give money to the candidates that they think are the most likely to win; it’s only human nature to want to back the winning horse. Romney thus far has raised the most money among GOP contenders, and by this logic, he should continue to bring in more cash than anyone else. Yet Romney’s poll numbers consistently show that Republicans are apathetic towards his candidacy, so how long will he be able to hold enough interest while maintaining his aura of inevitability?

In early 2007, a somewhat similar dynamic played out for Democrats with Hillary Clinton, who was widely thought to be the inevitable Democratic nominee for President. Clinton, of course, was not able to maintain that early momentum into Iowa in 2008. With just five months until Republicans roll into Iowa for their Presidential battle, Rep. Michele Bachmann appears to be more popular in Cornville than Romney…with Texas Governor Rick Perry looming large.

What say you, Polsters? Will Romney be able to hold onto his aura of inevitability? Vote after the jump?

Will Romney Still Be Viewed as the GOP Frontrunner by January?

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Wait, Wait, Wait…Herman Cain???

According to a new poll from Zogby, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain (yes, that Herman Cain) has emerged as one of the top two choices for the Republican nominee for President.

Seriously. Here’s the odd news:

Herman Cain trails only Chris Christie as the top choice among Republican primary voters in the race for the 2012 Presidential nomination. Mitt Romney ranks fourth, but voters see him as the most likely nominee by a wide margin over the rest of a 13-person field.

One-half of GOP voters say they would never vote for Donald Trump, and more than 30% say they would never vote for Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul.

These results are from an IBOPE Zogby interactive poll of 1,377 Republican primary voters conducted from May 6-9.

This can’t be written off as a complete outlier, either, because the high negatives for Donald Trump, Sarah Palin and friends is consistent with other polls of late.

We’ve said before that it’s going to be extremely tough for Republicans to defeat President Obama in 2012, but if the GOP ends up with Herman freakin’ Cain as their nominee, we might as well just skip the election and jump straight to Obama’s second term.