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Monday, February 11, 2008

Follow-up to The Mike Pence for VP Story

McCain's Veep Options

February 8, 2008
Wall Street Journal; Page A17

While congratulations are still premature, with Mitt Romney dropping out of the race yesterday it is now very likely that the Republican Party will nominate Sen. John McCain for president. If that happens, the GOP will, for the first time since 1976, select a candidate at odds with a large portion of its conservative members to be the standard bearer. At the same time, the party is more estranged from independent swing voters than it has been for decades.

This will pose a twin challenge for Mr. McCain. To meet it, he will have to become the champion of the brand of economic conservatism that has won national elections for Republicans since 1980.

[John McCain]

The Republican Party spent decades building its brand as the party of small government, free enterprise and fiscal discipline. That brand put Ronald Reagan in the White House in 1980 and gave Republicans control of Congress in 1994. When it became clear two years ago that Republicans had abandoned those principles, voters swept them from power.

The path back requires re-establishing the GOP as a party of limited government and economic freedom. This is essential to Mr. McCain's political future, the fortune of his party, and the economic well-being of the nation. And the first big indication that he intends to bring back the party of Reagan will be who Mr. McCain taps as his running mate.

Some have suggested Mike Huckabee. But that's a legacy of a hard fought primary season. Moving forward, Mr. Huckabee on the ticket would be a disaster. The former governor has a record of raising taxes and increasing spending. Picking him would only make it more likely that conservatives will sit on their hands come November.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of true-blue fiscal conservatives in the GOP. Here are few who would help Mr. McCain unify his party and restore its winning brand:

[Marshal (Mark) Sanford Jr.]

- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford: If there is a governor anywhere in America who has demonstrated a commitment to economic conservatism, it is Mr. Sanford. The mild-mannered former congressman has been willing to wage spending fights even against members of his own party. Facing an inherited $155 million deficit, Mr. Sanford vetoed 106 spending items. When the Republican legislature over-rode all but one of his vetoes, he carried two pigs into the Capitol, one named Pork the other Barrel.

Mr. Sanford also pushed through property and small-business tax cuts. As a member of Congress, Mr. Sanford was a reliable opponent of legislation expanding the size of government, and a supporter of personal accounts for Social Security before it was politically acceptable. He was also a champion of school choice.

[Jim DeMint]

- South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint: When it comes to fighting government spending in Washington, Mr. DeMint can be found on the frontlines. Mr. DeMint, a strong believer in the power of free-market solutions, has introduced a number of bills to restrict the federal government's reach. He's proposed legislation that would allow Americans to buy health insurance across state lines, opening the health-care market to greater competition. He is pushing legislation that would improve on the No Child Left Behind Act by expanding school-choice options and empowering parents and local officials. Mr. DeMint has also taken aim at the burdens Sarbanes-Oxley imposed on our public companies. He wants to repeal the death tax. And he's an ardent free trader, never wavering on the issue even when viciously attacked during his 2004 Senate race.

[Mike Pence]

- Indiana Rep. Mike Pence: Over seven years in Congress, the former chairman of the Republican Study Committee has established himself as a principled, determined conservative. An active defender of political speech, Mr. Pence voted against McCain-Feingold campaign-finance restrictions and led the fight against the ironically named Fairness Doctrine, designed to limit the speech of conservative talk radio. On taxes, Mr. Pence has been a strong proponent of tax cuts, calling the death tax "an economic growth killer." Mr. Pence opposed the Republican-backed Medicare prescription drug bill, calling it "the beginning of socialized medicine in America." Instead, he introduced the Small Business Health Insurance Act to make it easier for small businesses to purchase health insurance.

- Former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm: He is best known for the spending reduction measure that bears his name, the Gramm-Rudman law, which required automatic budget cuts if the deficit was not decreased to specified levels. But Mr. Gramm is a stellar economic conservative across the board. To quote him, he was "conservative before conservative was cool." Before retiring from the Senate in 2002, he led fights against energy price caps, the "windfall profits" tax on oil companies, President Bill Clinton's tax hikes and Hillary Clinton's health-care behemoth. And he fought for welfare reform. He has fought against big-government measures like increasing mileage standards on automakers and voted against McCain-Feingold.

- Forbes Inc. CEO Steve Forbes: While Mr. Forbes is an out-of-the-box pick, the desire for an outsider this year is huge. And with voters also worried about the economy, Mr. Forbes would be a natural complement to Mr. McCain. Given Mr. McCain's acknowledged unfamiliarity with economic issues, Mr. Forbes would provide the Arizona senator with instant credibility both with conservatives and independents who respect Mr. Forbes' business acumen. In addition, Mr. Forbes's ardent support for free trade, personal accounts for Social Security, the flat tax, school choice and less government overall has made him a darling of economic conservatives.

Despite his impressive wins Tuesday, Mr. McCain lost among self-identified conservative voters and only managed a statistical tie with Mr. Romney among self-described Republicans. To win in November, Mr. McCain needs a strong economically conservative message. Picking a vice presidential nominee who can credibly champion that message is the first and perhaps best indicator he can give voters how he will govern if he makes it to the Oval Office.

Mr. Toomey, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, is the president of the Club for Growth.

Note from Cyber Pastor - this is the article that my previous post about Rep. Mike Pence being considered for V.P. originated. I believem Mike is a long shot, and I wish Mr. Toomey would have included Duncan Hunter on this list. While I was/am a Thompson supporter, I personally don't see Fred as a #2 type of person. Hunter would be a great compliment for McCain's weaknesses.