COMMENTARY | For the past few days, news articles have reported on rumors that Newt Gingrich, one of the four candidates still vying for the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination, is seriously considering naming Governor Rick Perry as his running mate. Even more interesting, per a CNN article, there is some talk that Gingrich will make this decision public before the start of the Republican Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 27. Gingrich has denied these rumors; however, that has not dampened the story’s popularity.
It would be unprecedented if Gingrich did decide publicly to name Perry as his running mate before the start of the Convention, especially since, per Yahoo News, he has virtually no chance of winning the nomination before Aug. 27. I could not find any recent instances in which a Presidential contender from either of the two main parties chose his or her running mate before securing that party’s nomination. Perhaps that is what makes this story so intriguing.
As already noted, Gingrich has little chance of winning the Republican nomination. However, he might be able to increase his odds if he came out in the next few weeks and announced that Rick Perry would be his Vice-Presidential running mate. For one thing, that proclamation will almost certainly focus media attention on Gingrich for at least a few news cycles, thereby potentially providing him with some free advertising. Newt’s staff could also market the bold move as a sign that their candidate is confident about his ability to win the Republican nomination either outright or at the Convention. In political campaigns, voters’ (and delegates’) perceptions of a candidates’ ability to win an election count for a lot. More importantly, as noted by U.S. News, “Perry is popular with social conservatives and evangelical Christians, who represent a powerful Republican base in many states.” Gingrich needs their votes if he wants to have any chance of pulling off the upset. Finally, Perry might appeal to some voters and delegates who are turned off by Gingrich’s personal foibles.
If Gingrich were to introduce Perry as his running mate sometime soon, he would not be able to win the Republican Party’s nomination before the convention; he is too far behind Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in the delegate count. However, he might be able to siphon just enough delegates from those two candidates to force the nomination battle into the convention, where anything is possible.