Ashton, citing Troy earlier, writes that foreign policy definitely matters in an election. I agree with both of them. That is one reason I thought Jon Kyl should be on the short list for Veep, and why I insisted, against all common wisdom, that Rick Santorum should also be considered. Romney definitely could use somebody with acknowledged “chops” on foreign and defense matters right now. (I hasten to add that I remain THRILLED that Ryan is the running mate; I think he is absolutely terrific, but just for other reasons.)
But here is where I am going to suggest that Romney throw a real long ball. I have been thinking of this all year, no matter who the nominee was; indeed, I have thought of it in past presidential cycles too, but never decided it would be a useful game changer… until now.
I think Romney should choose, and publicly name, who his Secretary of State will be. I don’t think this has ever been done before, pre-election, so it would attract a ton of attention — and, since obviously Romney would choose whomever he chooses with an eye both on competence and on the political advantages the person would offer (in terms not of electoral votes or anything crass like that, but in terms of demonstrating good executive judgment on Romney’s part for making such a wise choice), the attention would almost all be of the positive sort.
Romney could then, in effect, outsource almost all statements on foreign affairs to the Sec. State-designee, who surely could run rings around the Obamites every time he/she goes on the air as a Romney surrogate.
At least a half dozen names suggest themselves as people who would be immediately accepted across the spectrum as a designee of substance and gravitas. (The only disadvantage of this is that Romney would politically be precluded from naming somebody who is a lightning rod for controversy, such as John Bolton, whereas a Bolton choice in the usual way, after the election, would still be possible.)
The one name, by the way, I would put at the top of the list is the same one I started this post with; Jon Kyl. Few people in Washington, and almost nobody on the right, are afforded such universal respect as Kyl is. And he could really pound home the issue of missile defense (probably bolstering the Polish-American ethnic vote in the Rust Belt while he was at it), on which he is extremely well versed, and explain why our abandonment of Poland and other Eastern European nations on this issue was such a horrible mistake. And Kyl sort of bridges the divide on the right between what some wrongly call the “Neo-cons” and those who are more isolationist: Kyl is not really identifiable in any one camp, other than being clearly “Reaganite.”
Regardless of who the choice would be, it would look good for Romney: bold, innovative, and presidentially decisive and confident, willing to let the public judge his choice before the election and giving a sense of his leadership style.
It’s worth serious consideration.