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OPINION: Rubio's time will come, but that time isn't now

"Rubio, Rubio, Rubio."

You hear the chants all across the country. On talk shows, on cable TV, on blogs and in op-ed columns, everyone with a conservative bone in her body is urging presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney to choose the smart and dashing Marco Rubio as his vice president.

The conservative crowd's clamor for Rubio is beginning to worry me. It could backfire. For one thing, it's setting up Romney for a disaster.

If he doesn't choose Rubio — and I would agree with that decision — it's going to disappoint a lot of Republican voters who think Rubio is the key to de-electing President Obama. And when voters are disappointed, they don't show up to vote.

Don't get me wrong. Rubio is great, maybe the best young talent in the Republican draft pool. The first-term Florida senator is already a superstar and ready for the big leagues — and that's the biggest problem I have with picking him.

When you're trying to get elected president, you don't pick a superstar for your running mate. You pick someone boring, someone who is not going to eclipse you the way Sarah Palin outshined John McCain just four years ago.

I admit it wasn't hard to outshine McCain. But if he hadn't been so desperate to put some life into his lackluster campaign, he would have done the wiser thing and chosen someone even more boring than himself.

It was Reagan and Bush I. Bush I and Quayle. Clinton and Gore. Gore and ????? Whoever it was, he or she was so boring I can't remember their name. Was it Kerry? Biden?

Just joking, but you get the point. In 2000, the Bush II-Cheney ticket turned out to be a mini-mistake. Dick Cheney was so experienced and such a strong personality that he acted like a co-president for eight years, which only caused trouble for George W. Bush.

There's only room for one star on the ticket. Romney doesn't need Rubio or Chris Christie or Condi Rice, or even Paul Ryan. He needs a Tim Pawlenty, a Rob Portman or a Bob McDonnell — a non-star.

He needs someone who's a virtual unknown to the voting masses, but nonetheless experienced in governing and ready to do the VP's thankless jobs of attending funerals and waiting for the chance to break a tie vote in the Senate.

Nobody ever votes for a president because they like the VP. Romney has to be the only star. Period. He has to be the focus of the Republican ticket. 

Unlike McCain, who had to appear with Palin most of the time just to draw a crowd, Romney needs to have a VP who can campaign for him elsewhere without attracting all the media attention or showing him up.

That might be hard. Mitt is not exactly known for his star power. But he doesn't need to be exciting to win the White House. He needs to show voters that he has the ideas and the governing skills to pull the economy out of the deep ditch Mr. Obama's got us stuck in.

Rubio will have his day. So will future Republican all-stars like Christie, Ryan and Bobby Jindal. The GOP has a deep bench. 

But Mitt's the GOP's QB now. He's got to ignore the crowd of conservatives who want him to throw the long bomb to Rubio. He's got to call his own play for VP — and make it good but boring.

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin's Press).

June 29, 2012 - 12:01am


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