Monday, February 11, 2008

Number Two Could Be the Key to Number One

Now that McCain has the GOP nomination "all but sealed up," inside-the-beltway talk has turned to the selection of a running mate. Not having decided whether I'll support him isn't a bar to speculating about who would be the best Republican candidate for Vice President.

Before offering my idea, some principles: With that preface, my suggestion is ex-Congressman JC Watts:
J.C. was elected to the U.S. Congress from the fourth district of Oklahoma in 1994. In 1998, he was elected by his peers to serve as chairman of the Republican Conference, the fourth-ranking leadership position in the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives, and a position once held by Dick Cheney, Jack Kemp and Gerald Ford. In this capacity, J.C. provided daily counsel to the Speaker of the House, and participated in bi-weekly meetings with the President of the United States.

As a Member of Congress representing the fourth district of Oklahoma, J.C. served for eight years on the House Armed Services Committee. He authored legislation to create, and then he later served on, the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. He also served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as the House Banking Committee. He led two congressional trade missions to Africa. He co-authored the American Community Renewal and New Markets Act, which President Clinton signed into law in 2000. He was the author of President Bush’s faith based initiative, the Community Solutions Act of 2001. He also developed legislation with Congressman John Lewis to establish a Smithsonian museum of African American history.

J.C. was born on November 18, 1957 in Eufaula, Oklahoma. He graduated from Eufaula High School in 1976 and attended the University of Oklahoma until his graduation in 1981 with a B.A. in journalism. While at the University of Oklahoma, Watts was quarterback for the Sooners, leading them to two consecutive Big Eight Championships and Orange Bowl victories. He was voted the Most Valuable Player in the 1980 and 1981 Orange Bowls. From 1981 to 1986, he started for Ottawa and Toronto in the Canadian Football League and was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Grey Cup, the CFL's Super Bowl, his rookie season.

After returning to Oklahoma, Watts served as a youth minister at Sunnylane Baptist Church in Del City, Oklahoma from January 1987 until December 1994, when he then became associate pastor. In 1990 he was elected to the Oklahoma State Corporation Commission and became chairman before running for Congress in 1994.
Matt Pruitt of RedState sees it similarly:
I have three main criteria that I hope Senator McCain will follow in picking a running mate:
1. That the individual be from the South;
2. That they be able to consolidate both religious and economic conservatives, and;
3. That they be able to bring new voters into the fold and expand the Republican base.
Considering these three criteria, I am endorsing an individual that hasn't been given much thought... former Oklahoma Congressman JC Watts for Vice President. . .

He is an unapologetic social conservative, a former pastor, former Oklahoma Corporate Commissioner and Congressman, former college football star, and currently a successful business man, national pundit, and a board member of such organizations as the Boy Scouts of America. More importantly, JC is a true believer in free market economics, and consistently for more defense, less government overall, and lower taxes. Watts can speak to the Huckabee, Romney, Thompson, and McCain voting blocks with out batting an eye, and without having his sincerity questioned.

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't appreciate the fact that Watts is an African American, I do. I am against affirmative action, but believe it makes sense for Republicans to recruit minority candidates. African American voters have been taken for granted by the Democratic Party, as has become evident with Obama's overwhelming wins in South Carolina and Georgia. With McCain's popularity in the Hispanic community and Watts' ability to reach out to African Americans, the Republican Party can break into typical Democratic voting blocks that are not only key for victory in 2008, but an absolute must if we are to be successful in the future.
Bruce Walker agrees, and has three alternative suggestions:
If McCain takes a one term pledge, then the selection of a good vice presidential candidate would prevent Republicans in four years from going through a nomination process that divides the party. Moreover, although vice presidents in recent years have been the “attack dog” of the administration, McCain is perfectly capable of being his own attack dog. This would leave the vice president in the position of being a genial “good cop” for four years, and make his election in 2012 much more likely.

Conservatives should secure from McCain a short list of individuals that he would choose for vice president. Here are some thoughts: John Kasich, the Ohio straight-shooter whose style would fit well with McCain, who is honest, and who would carry Ohio; J.C. Watts, the Oklahoma straight-shooter whose race and whose faith would make him a formidable candidate and whose conservatism is clear; Bobby Jindal, the bright conservative child of Indian immigrants who attracts the respect of everyone; Rick Santorum, the former Senator who served with McCain and whose credential are also impeccable.

All of those four have a touch of maverick, but all are also undeniable conservatives with distinct electoral advantages for the Republican Party in the general election. All four are also relatively young men who could serve two terms in the White House.
I think Jindal too young and Santorum tainted by losing his Senate seat last November. Oh, ignore any talk about Condoleeza Rice--we don't need two foreign policy types on the ticket. Watts is a better fit--and based on a pro-McCain Op-Ed published on Friday, he may be quietly campaigning for the job.

McCain-Watts: now that would be exciting. Especially if the Dems choose Obama.

MORE:

John Hawkins' top 22 choices for McCain's VP.

1 comment:

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