By Robert Reich
Since my New Year’s prediction that Obama would select Hillary Clinton for his running mate in 2012 (and Joe Biden would become Secretary of State), I’ve been swamped by requests for my GOP prediction. Here goes.
You can forget the caucuses and early primaries. Mitt Romney will be the nominee. Republicans may be stupid but the GOP isn’t about to commit suicide. The other candidates are all weighed down by enough baggage to keep a 747 on the tarmac indefinitely.
For his running mate, Romney will choose Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida. Why do I say this?
First, Romney will need a right-winger to calm and woo the Republican right. Tea Partiers are attracted to Rubio – an evangelical Christian committed to reducing taxes and shrinking government. Rubio’s meteoric rise in the Florida House before coming to Congress was based on a string of conservative stances on state issues.
Rubio is also a proven campaigner, handily winning four House elections starting in 2002, and then beating popular incumbent Republican governor Charlie Crist in the 2010 Republican primary — with the help of Tea Partiers.
Moreover, he’s only 40, thereby giving the GOP ticket some youthful vigor.
And he’s Hispanic – a Cuban-American – at a time when the GOP needs to court the Hispanic vote.
Rubio’s only baggage is the “son of exiles” controversy – his suggestion that his parents were refugees forced out of Cuba by Castro when in fact they moved to the United States before the Cuban revolution.
But this isn’t the sort of slip that would keep him off the ticket. In fact, Romney has defended Rubio, saying “I think the world of Marco Rubio, support him entirely and think that the effort to try to smear him was unfortunate and bogus.”
Finally, and most critically, Florida is a crucial swing state. Rubio would help deliver it.
So it will be Obama-Clinton versus Romney-Rubio.
And what’s my prediction for Election Day? Obama-Clinton hands down.
I warn you, though. Political predictions, economic forecasts, and astrology differ in only one respect. Astrology has a fairly good record of being correct.