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Commentary: Candidates should computer date their VP choice

  • Story Highlights
  • Candidates should hurry up and make their VP picks, Rollins says
  • Writer: Making the choice is equivalent of computer dating
  • Rollins says Hillary is obvious choice for Obama, but there's "no love" there
  • Find someone who will give you good advice, Rollins says
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By Ed Rollins
CNN Contributor
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Editor's note: Ed Rollins, who served as political director for President Reagan, is a Republican strategist who was national chairman of the Huckabee campaign.

Rollins says no one votes for president based on the VP choice, so candidates should pick quickly.

Rollins says no one votes for president based on the VP choice, so candidates should pick quickly.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- One of the great dilemmas of modern romance is computer or Internet dating. Put in all the qualities you think you want in a future mate or date and out pops "Mr. or Ms. Whoever!" More often than not, it turns into a big disappointment. Picking vice presidents has also become a form of computer dating.

A recent political version of all this was Dan Quayle in 1988. George Herbert Walker Bush ("41," or the "good Bush," as he is referred to in some circles), was tired of being overshadowed by Ronald Reagan, and he wanted his own man as veep. Someone he could overshadow.

He instructed the computer (or his team): Give me someone like my primary opponents, a senator from the Midwest like Bob Dole and/or a young conservative like Jack Kemp. To the surprise of nearly everyone, most of all himself, out popped Dan Quayle.

In the end, the country survived; Bush got elected, and unfortunately the only one who got hurt was Dan Quayle, a decent man who could have thrived in the Senate as a future committee chairman and conservative leader. Instead, he is now mentioned as a potential candidate on "Dancing with the Stars."

In 2000, the man operating the computer and putting in all the data was Dick Cheney. After careful machinations and reviewing all the candidates and criteria, the most qualified guy Dick Cheney could find was Dick Cheney. The only hurdle in that process was Cheney needed to change his residency from Texas back to Wyoming. The constitution doesn't allow two oil executives from the same state in the White House. (Well, not exactly; the 12th amendment forbids a state's electors from voting for both a president and vice president from that state.)

We are in the computer dating mode again. The obvious choice for Sen. Barack Obama is Sen. Hillary Clinton. The problem is, try as hard as he can, there "just ain't no love there!" Besides, she's married to a guy who's already been president.

The obvious choices for Sen. John McCain are former Govs. Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee. They both were tested in the primaries and have constituencies that McCain hasn't solidified. Same problem as above: "Just no love!" In Romney's case, maybe not even any "like."

So now we are left to the "chattering class" (of which I am a dutiful member) speculating 24 hours a day on cable television about who will be picked or who should be picked.

Not a one of us has a real clue as to whom it will be or when he or she will be chosen or whether anyone really can help the ticket more than those mentioned above.

My only advice to the prospective nominees: Let's get it over with! No one votes for vice president. Get this distraction out of the way so voters can focus on you and your programs.

Crank up the computer, throw in all the data about whom you think you want, and look hard at the choices. Whomever you pick, you will be second guessed, so please yourself first and foremost. You live with your choice. Always remember, a campaign is a long, hard date! If you win, a four-year administration is a marriage with no break or "do over."

Find somebody you love and respect (or at least like) and want to have at your side every day sharing your intimate thoughts and decisions. Also pick someone who will give you good counsel.

Most of all, remember this is your first big decision, the most important person you will pick, win or lose. You will be judged on it by party activists, the media, pundits and the American public. And "personnel set policy."

Just remember the consequences of Cheney picking Cheney.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

All About Dick CheneyBarack ObamaJohn McCain

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