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Gearan on Romney’s VP Selection

President Mark D. Gearan was recently interviewed for a story in The Wall Street Journal about presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s process of selecting a running mate. The article focused on the Romney campaign’s options for timing the announcement, as well as choices of running mate. Having served in the Clinton administration as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff, Gearan played a major role in running President Bill Clinton’s running mate selection process.

In the article, Gearan says “that just because a potential pick looks good on paper, it doesn’t make that person the right fit. ‘Some of the rules are a bit overstated,’ Mr. Gearan said. In the end, ‘a gut check is pretty critical.'”

The full article as it appeared in The Wall Street Journal follows.

The Wall Street Journal
Romney’s Ticket Talk Is Heating Up

Colleen McCain Nelson and Sara Murray • July 17, 2012

In the time before his party’s national convention late next month, Mitt Romney still has one surefire way to draw the spotlight to his campaign: When he names a running mate, the choice will dominate the political conversation.

Al Gore introduced and Sen. Joe Lieberman as his running mate on Aug. 8, 2000.
But both the person he selects and the timing of the announcement come with trade-offs that the Romney camp must weigh.

It appears unlikely now that Mr. Romney will name his selection before departing next week for a trip abroad. Unveiling a vice-presidential pick before then would detract attention from a trip to the London Olympics that would allow Mr. Romney to showcase his success running the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, followed by a stop in Israel and perhaps elsewhere to show his grasp of foreign policy.
Mitt Romney is joined by Sen. Marco Rubio during a town hall-style meeting in Aston, Pa., on April 23.

One person familiar with the vetting process said Mr. Romney was likely to name his pick after he returns from abroad but weeks before the convention begins Aug. 27, because the campaign envisions Mr. Romney and his No. 2 touring the country together, in large part to raise money.

Speculation swirled briefly that Mr. Romney’s pick could be unveiled this week. That would help shift the conversation from attacks by President Barack Obama on Mr. Romney’s career as a private-equity investor and calls by Democrats and some Republicans for him to release more years of his tax returns.

Preparations already are in progress for the announcement. The Romney campaign said Tuesday it had hired two people to act as staff for the eventual vice-presidential nominee, and people familiar with the process said more staffers would be hired soon. One person said the staff wouldn’t know who the selection is until it is announced.

The Romney team has confirmed little about the shortlist of contenders, but the small cadre of senators, governors and House members campaigning for Mr. Romney has provided clues. The first consideration, aides say, is that the person be ready to serve as president.

It isn’t realistic to think a running mate could deliver a particular swing state or voting bloc, said Charles Black, a GOP strategist who served as an adviser to Sen. John McCain during his 2008 presidential bid. “Vice-presidential nominees don’t deliver much,” he said.

Rather, he said, the goal usually is to select a running mate who has minimal baggage, wouldn’t become a distraction, could reinforce the candidate’s message and would raise money.

A close friend of Mr. Romney’s said the Republican presidential candidate knows what he wants in the second spot on the ticket: “Someone he can trust as a partner….Trust really matters.”

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Tim Pawlenty, a former governor of Minnesota, are possible picks. Both have a good relationship with Mr. Romney, and both have been campaign surrogates on the trail and on television.

“If Rob Portman is the choice, Gov. Romney will be all the better for it,” former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu said Tuesday. He cited Mr. Portman’s experience in government and lauded his campaign skills.

But Mr. Portman could link Mr. Romney in voters’ minds with the administration of George W. Bush, which Mr. Portman served as budget director.

Mr. Pawlenty’s blue-collar roots and efforts to appeal to so-called Sam’s Club Republicans are considered strengths, but questions remain about whether his low-key demeanor would fire up the party base.

Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann, has suggested a woman should be considered, which helped put the focus on former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But Ms. Rice also served in the Bush administration and has described herself as holding “mildly pro-choice” views. Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum told ABC News Tuesday it is “nonnegotiable” that Mr. Romney choose a running mate who opposes abortion rights.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire also has spoken often for the campaign, but her time in national politics has been limited to the less than two years she has served in the Senate.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida bring compelling personal stories as the sons of immigrants. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have pushed muscular approaches to handling deficits that excite fiscal conservatives. But each carries a mark against him. Mr. Rubio is new to the national stage. Mr. Christie has gotten into fights with voters. In choosing Mr. Ryan, Mr. Romney would be reinforcing his embrace of proposals both have made to significantly change the Medicare program. Mr. Jindal endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry during the GOP primaries.

Mr. Romney hasn’t been heavily involved in the vetting, instead leaving it to Beth Myers, his longtime adviser who was tasked with evaluating potential running mates, according to someone familiar with the matter. She has interviewed all of the potential choices. While Mr. Romney has met with everyone on the shortlist, he hasn’t conducted any of the interviews with vice-presidential hopefuls.

Mark Gearan, who was involved in Bill Clinton’s vice-presidential selection process in 1992 and was Al Gore’s campaign manager that year, said that just because a potential pick looks good on paper, it doesn’t make that person the right fit. “Some of the rules are a bit overstated,” Mr. Gearan said. In the end, “a gut check is pretty critical.”

Patrick O’Connor
and Daniel Lippman contributed to this article.
Write to Colleen McCain Nelson at and Sara Murray at