I doubt anyone from the original field of eight candidates vying for the nomination beginning in December 2011 will be selected—at the debates they made it obvious they are more conservative than Romney and a sweetheart deal would be required. I still think Marco Rubio would be the best choice but he prefers to get his feet wet with more time in the Senate.
There was a rumor about Condoleeza Rice but I understand she has no aspirations at this point in her life. I would say the front runners are Kelly Ayote, the conservative New Hampshire senator, John Portman of Ohio, and of course Tim Pawlenty, the most likely choice at this point.
Ayote would be a powerhouse choice as it would cover tea party conservatism and has potential to sway women voters, even the liberal ones, to eat some crow and swing the G.O.P. way to make history by electing the first woman V.P. I know Sarah Palin failed to achieve such, but the competition was the first African American Prez vs, the first woman Veep. The former has happened and unfortunately for him, his policies continue to fail. The downsides are (1) you are taking a Republican out of the Senate and the legislative branch which could have an adverse affect on which party will have a majority in Congress as her replacement would not be guaranteed to be Republican, and (2), it could entice Obama to switch from Biden to Hilary Clinton eliminating the urgency for liberal women voters to cross party lines to make history. Nonetheless, I would commend Mr. Romney for making such a bold choice.
John Portman is not a very dynamic personality, but he is from Ohio, and for the last century, as Ohio went, so went the nation with respect to picking the winner. Governor Tim Pawlenty would be the one I would place a wager on if I were a betting man. Although Pawlenty stated he would prefer to help Romney get elected in other ways than be on the ticket, he would accept if he saw it in Romney’s best interest and Romney-Pawlenty is the most compatible ticket of the choices at this point. With all due respect to conservative talk maven Rush Limbaugh, I don’t think he got it right this time claiming Romney will win by a landslide. I see him slightly favored over Obama, but far from a cakewalk. A dynamic Veep may be a good idea in that case.
If I were advising the Romney camp, I think he should do what Adlai Stevenson did in 1956 when Estes Kefauver, a sharp contrast to Stevenson but well respected by both liberals and conservatives at the time, ran on the ticket because Stevenson elected not to select a running-mate but let the delegation decide for him at the convention. With Eisenhower being a war hero, no one was defeating him either in 1952 or 1956, but today, it just may get Romney someone he would never think to pick but will be a huge driving force on the ticket.