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Pick the best … Jeb Bush

Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson throws his VP endorsement behind Jeb Bush, choosing him over fellow former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush addressing the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Annual Conference last month.

Over the past several weeks, there has been endless media speculation on the GOP Vice Presidential pick. What is interesting, but also alarming, is the focus on satisfying the expectations of the party’s base instead of merit and competency.  It is another major example of where our nation’s priority compass is off course.

Shortly after the election, we will have to make some enormously painful and vital decisions relative to extending the Bush tax cuts, lifting the nation’s debt limit and bringing the budget into closer balance.  These domestic decisions will be made in the midst of a continuing uprising in the Middle East and a severe debt crisis in Europe.  In short, the actions taken by the United States will have a major impact on a fragile global economy.

What this suggests is that both political parties have an obligation to present to all the voters their best and brightest.  For the Republicans it means people of accomplishment and proven competence.  Personally, I would move former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, to the top of the list.  Yes, his selection may overshadow the likely nominee, Mitt Romney, but that may be a significant asset.  Speaking frankly, Romney is currently swimming in troubled waters and there is a declining confidence in his ability to survive.  He needs a life raft that suggests quality.  In political terms, that would be a game changer.

There are others that should be considered including Senators Portman and Coburn, former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, along with Governor Mitch Daniels. They are clearly qualified and would bring good judgment and balance to the ticket.

But no one has the heavyweight appeal of Jeb Bush who enjoyed a highly successful run as Governor of Florida and has a demonstrated ability to work with both parties.  In short, he can successfully govern and that is key.

Further, his appeal goes well beyond a narrow party base and  he would likely capture a large segment of middle America.  It goes without saying that his presence on the ticket would give the party real steadiness at the top.

Names like Governors Pawlenty and Jindal are advanced on the grounds that they are considered “safe”.  In other words, they will not overshadow Romney nor will they attract negative attention.  At least that is the speculation.

However, I would respectfully disagree.  If the principal Republican argument is that President Obama has not successfully led this nation out of its financial crisis then one would expect the Republican team to have demonstrated excellence in this area.

As stated, Romney is having difficulty and needs some serious shoring up with a solid VP pick.  Bush, Rice, Daniels, Portman, Colburn all have solid financial credentials. Pawlenty possesses many political skills but financial management is not one of them.  Against the repeated advice of rating agencies, Pawlenty borrowed heavily to balance budgets and left Minnesota with a massive deficit and a downgraded credit rating.   In addition, he presided over the largest property tax increases in the state’s history.  That is hardly a platform from which to launch criticism of Obama’s fiscal management.

However, in another twist, the issue that could ignite some national interest is the continuing saga of a Minnesota Republican Party deeply in debt and allegations of serious – possibly criminal – mismanagement by Pawlenty’s choice for party chairman.  The last thing Romney needs is more distraction.

With a campaign currently floundering, Romney would be well advised to do what his father would do – pick the most talented individual for the well being of the nation.  That is always the safest choice.  For my money, it is Jeb Bush.

This post was written by Arne Carlson and originally published on the Govenor Arne Carlson blog.

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