Four years ago, I correctly predicted Republican presidential nominee John McCain would select Sarah Palin as his running mate. Seriously. I shared my thoughts with my wife, co-anchor, some colleagues and friends. I told them McCain needed to make an historic choice to counter Barack Obama's historic candidacy and a woman seemed the way to go. At the time there were three female Republican governors, including Connecticut's Jodi Rell, but I felt Palin would be more appealing to conservatives. I made this prediction a week or two before the surprise selection of an obscure governor from Alaska was announced.
This year, I've been urged to make a prediction and announce it publicly. My gut tells me Mitt Romney is not going to select one of the people pundits believe are among the leading choices: Ohio Senator Rob Portman, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, or Florida Senator Marco Rubio. I really think Romney's running mate will be a woman.
Romney is trailing President Obama among women in the polls , and he is being attacked by some prominent women's groups. MSNBC routinely runs a banner at the bottom of their screen, with the headline "War on Women," and Democrats rarely miss an opportunity to talk about the "Republican war on women." I can't see the all-white male ticket happening this year.
Romney also has to be prepared for the possibility that President Obama could replace Vice-President Joe Biden with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should the president fall behind in the polls.
The women reported to be on Romney's list of potential running mates include New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. All were elected in 2010, and their selections would immediately invite comparisons to Palin, who also had been in office for less than two years when tapped to be McCain's number two. I'd be very surprised if Romney picks from that group.
I have a hunch former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is one of Romney's top choices, and she is the runner-up to my prediction. Rice would appeal to black, women and conservative voters, and bring foreign policy expertise to the ticket, much like Biden did for then Senator Obama. A Rice selection would mean former President Bush would be prominently featured in Democratic attack ads, and that's the biggest con to what would be a bold, historic choice.
My prediction for Romney's running mate is someone who has not been publicly identified as a potential choice, but I believe she's on the short list: Congressman Marsha Blackburn. Blackburn is a conservative from Tennessee, who calls herself a congressman rather than congresswoman. The arguments against her seem minor: She is a from a state that go will Republican and she's not well known. In a way, Blackburn has already been vetted through the media, as she has been a guest on Meet the Press, and other political programs and from what I've read, seems widely regarded in her party. Blackburn is a Tea Party favorite and one of the leading voices for the repeal of the President's health care program.