Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, address a campaign rally in Manchester, N.H., on Tuesday.
The 2008 election was about McCain and Obama, not Sarah Palin. Geraldine Ferraro’s place on the ’84 Democratic ticket had no effect on the outcome. And Dan Quayle, for all of the controversy about his selection, didn’t determine who won and who lost the 1988 election.
It’s not that the nominee for vice president is irrelevant. He or she will participate in a debate and have a role in promoting Romney and the Republican Party, as well as in tearing down the president and his party during the campaign. And, of course, the vice president will be next in line should something terrible happen to the president.
Voters apparently understand that while vice presidents have more or less influence on various decisions depending on who is in the Oval Office, it is presidents who make the big decisions.
Given all of this, I do not expect to be writing columns about potential Romney running mates. I’m not ruling it out completely because if some particularly stupid name surfaces, I don’t want to tie my own hands. But you will need to look elsewhere to find rundowns about “potential running mates.”
And you’ll have no difficulty finding chatter about them because everyone and his brother will be writing about it, tweeting it or talking about it on TV.
But so much of the talk about the selection of a Romney running mate will be meaningless drivel about pseudo-candidates who won’t be selected that you might as well just wait until the selection to react to it.
And, while the selection may well “say something” about Romney and his approach to the campaign and the presidency, it isn’t likely to determine who wins in November.
So why will everyone spend so much time on the vice presidential choice?
The cable networks have 8,784 hours to fill this leap year — 4,416 hours to fill from May 1 to the end of October — and they’ll need to fill some of those hours with chatter from people who want to hear themselves talk about running mate selections.
Viewers and readers seem to like the speculation — it’s sort of like a game show — so speculating on running mates has appeal to producers, editors and, yes, columnists.
So go ahead and have fun if you enjoy listening to the speculation. Play the VP selection game at cocktail parties or around the kitchen table. Write your comments about the best pick for Romney, or the worst, at the end of articles on the Web. Just remember that the 2012 election is between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.