Conventions and Veeps

It’s an entirely academic issue now, but Frontloading HQ’s Josh Putnam raises and answers a question that actually did have a bearing on the Romney campaign’s decision-making process in completing the ticket: “Do the RNC Rules Allow a VP Selection to Be Dumped by the Convention? Sure they do.”

This is an entirely separate issue from all the scenarios we’ve heard about involving a “revolt” by Ron Paul delegates in Tampa. In most states delegates are bound by primary or caucus results to vote for a pledged presidential candidate. These pledges do not extend to vice-presidential balloting. So even if you don’t accept that Romney was bound politically to give conservative activists someone they liked as a running-mate, going with a Condi Rice or anyone else failing a major litmus test would have courted an actual convention revolt, as John McCain learned when his wizards told him in 2008 that he could not choose Ridge or Lieberman, regardless of their general-election appeal.

As it happens, the Romney campaign’s most important challenge with respect to Ryan at the convention, aside from giving him an effective acceptance speech to deliver, is to make sure his spin on Ryan’s desirable characteristics is consistently echoed by any speakers who mention him, and anyone who’s allowed near reporters. Left to their own devices, many delegates would probably be happy to boast that Ryan’s the prophet who spells doom for the New Deal, and for the whole idea the federal government has any responsibility for the neediest Americans. But that’s why they have teleprompters, much as Republicans like to pretend that’s some sort of weak technological crutch invented to make Barack Obama sound smart.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.