By Reid Cherlin, GQ
We appear to be nearing the moment when Mitt Romney will announce his running mate. He's probably made up his mind already. And if the expert Romney-watchers are to be believed, he's likely going to pick someone boring and conventional, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty or Ohio Senator Rob Portman. The long-running theory at work here is that you're not supposed to pick a veep nominee who will upstage you. Romney, oratorically middling on his best day, would be upstaged by almost any of the rising GOP stars -- John Thune, say, or Nikki Haley --and must therefore limit himself to the milkiest of the milquetoast options.
To this I say: horsefeathers. I say: screw the conventional wisdom. I say: pick Chris Christie.
Yes, I know the criticisms. Chris Christie is a hot-head and a showboat. He's overweight. He doesn't represent a key swing state. He'd be uncontrollable, in the way that Sarah Palin was uncontrollable. He'd suck up all the oxygen and leave Romney fiddling in the wings, or worse, cleaning up his messes. All that is true, to a degree.
But let's remember the other key truism here: people vote for the top of the ticket, not the would-be VP. As you've read countless times, the real virtue of the running mate pick is that he can be nastier on the attack, he doubles your capacity for in-person campaigning, and your selection of him says something essential about your judgment. I think Christie would be a win for Romney on all three fronts. He is an excellent attack dog. He lives for town-hall campaigning. And his pick would make loud and clear -- to Romney's still-unenthused Republican critics, and to swing voters who love moderate East Coast Republicans -- that he's serious about kicking ass. Most of all, though, Christie is damn entertaining. He is disarmingly blunt. He's a ham, he takes tough questions head-on, and he loves the parry-and-thrust that is weaker pols' undoing. There's a reason he remains so popular.
The campaign so far has been an utter grind, and Romney's VP announcement is our last, best chance for an infusion of something fresh, interesting, and new. Please, Governor Romney: I know you're a businessman above all else. But can't we all just have some fun for once?
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