- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Since abandoning his quest for the Republican nomination in February, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney endorsed Mr. McCain and has been working with him to raise funds for the general election. Mr. Romney and Mr. McCain have put aside their primary-season battles and their intense rivalry. Mr. Romney also founded a political action committee, Free and Strong America, which is devoted to helping Republican candidates win office. It is no wonder then that Mr. Romney is being touted for the vice presidential slot.

There are other possibilities - such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, former Ohio Rep. Rob Portman and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Yet Mr. Romney has national stature and instant name recognition.

Mr. Romney can be an asset in counterbalancing Mr. McCain’s stated indifference on economic matters. Mr. McCain told the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore: “I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign-policy issues. I still need to be educated.” Mr. Romney is a businessman with a solid record of turning companies around while he worked in the private sector. He also has a record of balancing budgets and cutting spending while he was governor of Massachusetts (2003-07). Mr. Romney can also be an indispensable ally in combating Mr. Obama’s record-breaking fund-raising organization. Mr. Romney too has one of the best fund-raising teams in the country.

Finally, Mr. Romney can bolster Mr. McCain in areas of weakness in order to assemble a winning electoral coalition. Mr. Romney has conservative credentials on a wide range of issues and can solidify the Republican base - one which is not yet fully energized by Mr. McCain’s candidacy. Mr. Romney is pro-life, anti-gay marriage, anti-amnesty for illegal immigrants and in favor of a foreign policy based on the national interest. Mr. Romney could be vital to Mr. McCain in securing essential battleground states such as New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan. Mr. Romney won Michigan in the Republican primary: This state is ripe for the picking, especially following the May 31 Democratic National Committee panel decision on delegate distribution, which angered some Democrats.

Mr. McCain needs to bolster his standing among conservatives and to capture key battleground states. The Arizona senator must have a running mate who has been vetted, tested and has national stature.

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