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Vice Presidential Candidates 2012

Updated on April 16, 2015

Republican Vice Presidential Candidates in 2012

Despite some speculation about a potential retirement, Joe Biden will serve as Barack Obama's Vice President once again until 2016. Paul Ryan, a conservative Congressman from Wisconsin best known for his various plans for reducing the federal budget deficit through massive cuts to spending on government programs such as Medicare, education, and food stamps for the poor, ran unsuccessfully as Mitt Romney's running mate on the Republican side.

This hub will take a look at the some of the leading candidates who were under consideration to become the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, including their relative strengths and weaknesses. Many of these candidates may ultimately be presidential candidates in 2016, especially considering Mitt Romney's loss in 2012.

The Vice Presidential Choice

Paul Ryan

Biography: A current Congressman from Wisconsin who chairs the House Committee on the Budget, Ryan has become a darling of the Tea Party for his aggressive plans for reducing the deficit and cutting federal spending.

Strengths: Ryan will play very well to the GOP base, especially those who want to dramatically reduce federal spending and cut taxes. Additionally, while Ryan is socially conservative, he tends to express that conservatism in a much less confrontational way than candidates like Huckabee and others who have been known to make extreme statements about the morality of the LGBT community.

Weaknesses: Ryan's plan for reducing the budget may be too far to the right for many Americans, who are worried about the deficit but who don't want to completely get rid of Medicare or end federal spending on education. Ryan also is somewhat inexperienced on foreign policy, which may not help bolster Romney given Mitt's own lack of foreign policy experience.

Odds of Being Chosen: 15%

The current favorite?
The current favorite?

The Former Front Runners

Marco Rubio

Biography: A current Senator from Florida who many consider to be a rising star in the Republican party, Rubio has consistently been rumored to be a potential candidates for the VP nomination.

Strengths: Florida figures to be a key swing state and Rubio is a relatively popular senator, with recent polls putting his approval rating at around 50%. Rubio's Hispanic background may also help a Republican ticket improve its performance in key swing states like Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico. Rubio is also considered to be a good speaker who has the potential to fire up the Republican base and bring in large amounts of fundraising dollars.

Weaknesses: Rubio has only served two years as Senator, and if he accepts the VP Nomination, he will have even less experience than President Obama did when he decided to run for President.

Chris Christie

Biography: The current governor of New Jersey, Christie was commonly mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2012 despite repeated assertions that he was not interested in the job. His relatively moderate views and strong personality could be ideal to help balance out the presidential ticket.

Strengths: Christie is relatively well known, moderate, and has a sense of humor (including producing a video that references all the vice-presidential speculation). He has demonstrated electoral success in New Jersey, a traditionally Democratic state, and a place where the Republicans have not been able to compete in recent years. He also is a demonstrated fundraiser who could help bring in corporate dollars to the Romney campaign.

Weaknesses: Christie may be to moderate for some hardcore conservative voters. He also is a potential future presidential candidate who may not see the value in running for the VP slot in 2012 when he could make a shot for the top in 2016.

Robert Portman

Biography: Currently representing Ohio in the U.S. Senate, Portman was strongly considered as a VP candidate in 2008 before John McCain ultimately went with Sarah Palin. Before becoming a Senator, Portman served as the U.S. Trade Representative and director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Bush.

Strengths: Portman is a relative moderate who is considered by many to have a good grasp of federal government economic policy because of his past experience working in the Bush administration. He also was elected by a 57-40 margin to the Senate in 2010 from Ohio, which might be the single most important swing state in the 2012 presidential election.

Weaknesses: Portman has never worked for a lengthy period of time in the private sector, undercutting one of Mitt Romney's key criticisms of President Obama. He also is relatively unknown nationally, having only become a Senator in 2010, and is better known for his ability to analyze complex policy issues that for firing up the Republican base.

Tea Party Express

Rand Paul

Biography: Currently a Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul is a favorite of the Tea Party and is the son of current presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Strengths: Rand has name recognition, Tea Party credentials, and demonstrated fundraising ability. If Romney were to win the nomination and choose Paul as his VP, he might be able to win the endorsement of Paul's father and increase his support among grassroots libertarian voters.

Weaknesses: Paul's views on foreign policy or out of sync with many Republican voters, as he echoes his father's strong opposition to the continuation of the war in Afghanistan and outspoken criticism of potential military action against Iran. On the other extreme, Paul's views on cutting popular federal programs like Medicare and social security may prove too conservative for independents in the general election.

Darkhorse Candidates for the VP Nomination

Tim Pawlenty

Biography: A former governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty was thought to be a potential front-runner for the GOP nomination for president in 2012, but ended up dropping out of the race in early 2011 due to poor polling and fundraising numbers.

Strengths: Pawlenty has managerial experience as a governor of Minnesota and relatively mainstream conservative views. He also endorsed Mitt Romney after dropping out of the presidential race in 2011, loyalty that could be rewarded if Mitt does win the GOP nomination.

Weaknesses: Despite traits that many political commentators considered to be ideal for a presidential candidate, Pawlenty couldn't get his presidential campaign off the ground, and there's reason to think that he wouldn't contribute much as a Vice Presidential candidate either. He also doesn't have great approval ratings in Minnesota, with 52% of residents stating they had an unfavorable opinion of him in a poll taken in May 2011.

Mitch Daniels

Biography: The current governor of Indiana and former OMB director for President Bush, Daniels was mentioned as a candidate for the potential presidential nomination until he declined to run last year. Could he persuaded to serve as Vice President?

Strengths: Daniels is generally considered to be a pragmatic and somewhat moderate Republican. He is extremely popular in Indiana, a state President Obama won in 2012, and could help the eventual nominee compete with President Obama in the Midwest, which could be especially attractive for a candidate like Romney who has performed poorly in midwestern states during the primaries.

Weaknesses: Daniels can be somewhat dry as a speaker and is unlikely to fire up the GOP Base or bring in lots of grassroots donations through fundraising. As OMB director under President Bush, he dramatically underestimated the cost of the Iraq War, providing an estimate of 50-60 billion dollars in 2002 (in Daniels defense, this estimate did not expect the war to continue for another 10 years). The current final cost of the war is estimated at $1.9 trillion dollars.

Mike Huckabee

Biography: The former governor of Arkansas and a current Fox News host, Huckabee was a presidential candidate in 2008 and performed surprisingly well, winning many states before eventually losing the nomination to John McCain.

Strengths: Huckabee is extremely popular among social conservatives and in the south and has a history of economic populism that could play well in a general election, especially in swing states where voters combine social conservatism with more moderate economic preferences. By not running for President in 2012, Huckabee has also avoided the mud slinging that has tarnished the image of many other high ranking Republicans.

Weaknesses: Huckabee is socially conservative, having questioned the theory of evolution and called homosexuality a "aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle." He also has limited foreign policy experience, which is not necessarily a problem if his running mate does, but could hurt him if the presidential nominee is also someone without much foreign policy experience.

Jon Huntsman

Biography: A former governor of Utah and ambassador to China, Huntsman competed for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 before dropping out after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Strengths: Huntsman has considerable business and foreign policy experience, and is somewhat more moderate on social issues than many of the other candidates, having supported immigration reform and civil unions for gay couples. Huntsman also came in third in the New Hampshire primary and could challenge Mitt Romney for moderate voters if he can hang in the race. He could be a good counterbalance for a more socially conservative GOP presidential nomination.

Weaknesses: Huntsman did terribly in the GOP primaries and his moderation would probably turn off much of the GOP base. It also seems unlikely that Romney would choose Huntsman as his running mate, as the two have expressed strong dislike for each other in the past (though Huntsman did endorse Romney after dropping out).

The Unknown Candidates

As shown by John McCain's unexpected choice of Sarah Palin in 2008, the VP nomination is quite often a less known candidate that comes out of nowhere. It didn't happen this time, but who knows if someone like Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, or Michele Bachmann could get chosen in the future?


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    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      You did a great job and I don't want to reveal my party preference of course. Looking at this today and knowing the VP choice..well who knows what will happen in November.

    • Dennis AuBuchon profile image

      Dennis AuBuchon 

      6 years ago

      A good collection of information on possible vps for Romney

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • Two Minute Review profile image

      Two Minute Review 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania, United States

      Where's Condi Rice? Upside: she's a woman, she's a minority, she has buckets of foreign policy credentials that Romney lacks, and could likely run circles around Biden in a debate. Downside: Never held elected office, seems to be disinterested in the position.

      I'd love to see it, though. Kay Bailey Hutchinson is another good one...

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Our distinguished Senator from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, is not running for reelection in November and would be an excellent VP choice. She has the experience in Washington to be particularly helpful to Romney. She is a strong conversative and supports the Tea Party platform, but also would appeal to independent and women voters.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Rubio has many bones in his closets (scams) and they would haunt Romney. To win Florida and possibly the country he would need Jeb, who unlike his older brother, is very popular, intelligent and charismatic.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      The Bush's still quietly have a grip on the Republican Party. Rubio is one of Jeb's many puppets in Florida.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Jeb Bush?

    • profile image

      Judith Wendling 

      6 years ago

      While I'm supporting Romney, I've not heard his views regarding China now beginning to dominate the world finances with the yuan, with the US$ declining. I'd like to hear Romney's views (altho I know it's a touchy subject, but also have a running mate who agrees that the US needs to take the bull by the horns and bring our economy back - not Obama's conspiracy with China to take our country down even further.

    • profile image

      Jonathan Ibisch 

      6 years ago

      Paul Ryan is a congressman from Wisconsin, not from Florida.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Biden will not be Obama's running mate in 2012. Mark my words. They will find some excuse to get rid of the boob. Obama knows Biden is a clown and a big liability in 2012.

    • HipsHoney profile image


      6 years ago from West Virginia

      They will certainly have to come up with someone who can rouse the intelligent GOP base, because the two at the top right now, Santorum and Romney, are so wonky that they will need the VP to carry the campaign. I can't even begin to imagine either of those as President of this country really.


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