Playing The Smoke-Filled Room: GOP edition

Let us play a game. We will call it The Smoke-Filled Room.

Here is the set-up: No candidate has a majority of delegates coming into the convention. We are all grizzled machine politicians gathered in a smoke-filled room to broker the convention by coming up with a winning slate. (Neither our own preferences nor the good of the country come into the game, just winning.) We propose alternatives, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, argue with each other, and see if we can come to a consensus.

Today we play the Republican edition. Tomorrow we will pretend to be Democrats. I’ll go first:

All right, I think our evil cabal is all here. Mr. Burns, Krusty, come on into the hotel room. Karl, do you have a light for my seegar? Where are the Halliburton and Exxon representatives? They have to approve everything we do, you know. Let’s get started. . .

McCain and Huckabee would be good together, but that would leave out a big part of our base: conservatives.

How about Huckabee and Romney? Or should it be Romney and Huckabee? Or would that be seen as the weird religion ticket?

We could do Thompson and Giuliani–the Law and Order ticket! C’mon, help me out here. . .

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    The one of the token women (‘cuz there has to be more than one to maintain propriety) in the room says…

    Won’t vote for Romney.
    Won’t vote for Huckabee.
    I like McCain, though I’m still not sure why.

    Never thought of Thompson-Guiliani together, but it sounds palatable. And that’s where we are headed, isn’t it? What is palatable? We are betting on what will sell to the most number of people. The tv tie-in with Law and Order just might work. Less of a gimmick worked for Ventura.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    The one of the token women (‘cuz there has to be more than one to maintain propriety) in the room says…

    Won’t vote for Romney.
    Won’t vote for Huckabee.
    I like McCain, though I’m still not sure why.

    Never thought of Thompson-Guiliani together, but it sounds palatable. And that’s where we are headed, isn’t it? What is palatable? We are betting on what will sell to the most number of people. The tv tie-in with Law and Order just might work. Less of a gimmick worked for Ventura.

  • Bror Erickson

    Thompson and Guilliani? wouldn’t we have to wake them up first?
    Huckabee and Romney? why don’t we tie two cats together and run them? They have more than religious beliefs to fight over.
    McCain and Huckabee? at least they are in agreement and have two states under their belts together already.
    So would this eliminate the republican base? No I think if the republicans just want to win than they will vote for the republican candidate over the alternatives. But in this way you might be able to take some momentum out of Barack’s campaign. with mcCain and Huckabee you have a populist appeal, not quite the same as the democratic populist appeal, but it is balance out by McCain and Huckabee’s experience, and McCains foreign policy credentials.

  • Bror Erickson

    Thompson and Guilliani? wouldn’t we have to wake them up first?
    Huckabee and Romney? why don’t we tie two cats together and run them? They have more than religious beliefs to fight over.
    McCain and Huckabee? at least they are in agreement and have two states under their belts together already.
    So would this eliminate the republican base? No I think if the republicans just want to win than they will vote for the republican candidate over the alternatives. But in this way you might be able to take some momentum out of Barack’s campaign. with mcCain and Huckabee you have a populist appeal, not quite the same as the democratic populist appeal, but it is balance out by McCain and Huckabee’s experience, and McCains foreign policy credentials.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    What is it we’re smoking again?

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    What is it we’re smoking again?

  • http://pursuingholiness.com Laura

    “Huckabee and Romney? why don’t we tie two cats together and run them?”

    Okay, I don’t care who you are, that’s funny. :-)

  • http://pursuingholiness.com Laura

    “Huckabee and Romney? why don’t we tie two cats together and run them?”

    Okay, I don’t care who you are, that’s funny. :-)

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    I would think in terms of demographics: if you are going to run a Northeasterner as president, you’d better balance the ticket with someone from the South or Southwest. So, Romney and McCain. Mr. Respectable and Mr. Quixotic.

    The fact is, whoever runs is going to look outside of the current slate of candidates for a running mate.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    I would think in terms of demographics: if you are going to run a Northeasterner as president, you’d better balance the ticket with someone from the South or Southwest. So, Romney and McCain. Mr. Respectable and Mr. Quixotic.

    The fact is, whoever runs is going to look outside of the current slate of candidates for a running mate.

  • Joe

    You have to remeber that McCain will never take the numebr 2 spot. He is 71 and doesn’t have 8 years to wait. Also, he has more power in the Senate than the VP does. McCain-Romeny, I just don’t see it.

    Romney Huckabee would be good if Romney and Huckbee did not want to kill each other.

    Thompson has appeal to some people but not enough to ride the 1 spot. Maybe its McCain – Thompson. You get all independants who like McCain and a real conservative (if you can keep him awake).

  • Joe

    You have to remeber that McCain will never take the numebr 2 spot. He is 71 and doesn’t have 8 years to wait. Also, he has more power in the Senate than the VP does. McCain-Romeny, I just don’t see it.

    Romney Huckabee would be good if Romney and Huckbee did not want to kill each other.

    Thompson has appeal to some people but not enough to ride the 1 spot. Maybe its McCain – Thompson. You get all independants who like McCain and a real conservative (if you can keep him awake).

  • kerner

    If the nominee is McCain, the choice of VP is going to matter more that it would for the others. First, because at age 72, something might happen to McCain. There absolutely will be jabs about his age from the Democrats if he is the Republican nominee, so the Republicans MUST be able to point to the VP candidate and say that he will be able to step in and take over. Also, McCain (the age factor again) might be a one term president, so an acceptable successor would be a good thing to have around.

    Of the present candidates, Fred Thompson would be a the best running mate for McCain. He’s a conservative. He and McCain are friends so Fred can talk to McCain as a friend if (when) McCain starts to go off on a maverick tangent. National Review, an “establishment” conservative publication that supported Romney, has published an article that basicly offers an olive branch to McCain. Read it here:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MzEwNDkwZTA0NWE5ODBhOGI5MGJjMzczNzE5NzIwNTk=

    The article points out that McCain can address the concerns of thier branch of conservatism by taking a few steps that are consistent with his principles. While each suggestion may not have to be followed to the letter, if he is smart McCain will do something like this. One thing not mentioned by NRO is the choice of a solidly conservative running mate.

    The trouble with Thompson as VP is the same as his problem as a presidential candidate. He doesn’t seem to have the drive or leadership capability necessary for the job. Normally, that doesn’t matter too much in a VP, but in this case I, again, believe the VP has to be a very can do guy.

    Other possibilities I kind of like are Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who is reliably conservative and solidly pro-life. Less well known outside of my own state is Congressman Paul Ryan (R) Wisconsin, who is young, but is becoming a very articulate voice of fiscal conservatism. Ryan would really keep the supply siders happy. The only thing I don’t like about either of these two is that, if elected, it takes another conservative out of Congress, which Congress can ill afford to lose.

  • kerner

    If the nominee is McCain, the choice of VP is going to matter more that it would for the others. First, because at age 72, something might happen to McCain. There absolutely will be jabs about his age from the Democrats if he is the Republican nominee, so the Republicans MUST be able to point to the VP candidate and say that he will be able to step in and take over. Also, McCain (the age factor again) might be a one term president, so an acceptable successor would be a good thing to have around.

    Of the present candidates, Fred Thompson would be a the best running mate for McCain. He’s a conservative. He and McCain are friends so Fred can talk to McCain as a friend if (when) McCain starts to go off on a maverick tangent. National Review, an “establishment” conservative publication that supported Romney, has published an article that basicly offers an olive branch to McCain. Read it here:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MzEwNDkwZTA0NWE5ODBhOGI5MGJjMzczNzE5NzIwNTk=

    The article points out that McCain can address the concerns of thier branch of conservatism by taking a few steps that are consistent with his principles. While each suggestion may not have to be followed to the letter, if he is smart McCain will do something like this. One thing not mentioned by NRO is the choice of a solidly conservative running mate.

    The trouble with Thompson as VP is the same as his problem as a presidential candidate. He doesn’t seem to have the drive or leadership capability necessary for the job. Normally, that doesn’t matter too much in a VP, but in this case I, again, believe the VP has to be a very can do guy.

    Other possibilities I kind of like are Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who is reliably conservative and solidly pro-life. Less well known outside of my own state is Congressman Paul Ryan (R) Wisconsin, who is young, but is becoming a very articulate voice of fiscal conservatism. Ryan would really keep the supply siders happy. The only thing I don’t like about either of these two is that, if elected, it takes another conservative out of Congress, which Congress can ill afford to lose.

  • Eric

    If Huckabee is still in the mix at the convention he has to be on the ticket at least as VP. The Republican Party needs the evangelical foot soldiers to have any hope of winning one big state outside of the South.

    If Huckabee goes into the convention with a plurality of delegates he wil need to be at the top of the ticket. Giving them less could drop evangelical turn out. Hey, Dick Cheney can stay on as VP.

  • Eric

    If Huckabee is still in the mix at the convention he has to be on the ticket at least as VP. The Republican Party needs the evangelical foot soldiers to have any hope of winning one big state outside of the South.

    If Huckabee goes into the convention with a plurality of delegates he wil need to be at the top of the ticket. Giving them less could drop evangelical turn out. Hey, Dick Cheney can stay on as VP.

  • Don S

    Giuliani and Huckabee would be intriguing. Giuliani is running as a fiscal conservative, and Huckabee would presumably make him more palatable to social conservatives and evangelicals. Also provides geographic disparity.

  • Don S

    Giuliani and Huckabee would be intriguing. Giuliani is running as a fiscal conservative, and Huckabee would presumably make him more palatable to social conservatives and evangelicals. Also provides geographic disparity.

  • Carl Vehse

    Bruce,

    ROTFL!! Yes, that’s an important point in playing the game with this bunch of RINOs and GOP has-beens.

  • Carl Vehse

    Bruce,

    ROTFL!! Yes, that’s an important point in playing the game with this bunch of RINOs and GOP has-beens.

  • Rose

    Romney – Duncan Hunter.
    Romney is the remaining social and fiscal conservative.
    If McCain is nominated, he might choose the ticket to be McCain-Feingold or McCain-Kennedy.

  • Rose

    Romney – Duncan Hunter.
    Romney is the remaining social and fiscal conservative.
    If McCain is nominated, he might choose the ticket to be McCain-Feingold or McCain-Kennedy.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    McCain/Feingold! The campaign finance reform ticket! Good one, Rose. The real politicos should be reading this. You all have some good ideas.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    McCain/Feingold! The campaign finance reform ticket! Good one, Rose. The real politicos should be reading this. You all have some good ideas.

  • fw

    MCCain and ________ the blank should NOT be any of the others running to be the nominee. How about the senator from Nebraska who is also against torture. can´t think of his name right now…

    no one else will get independents and democrats to cross over. if clinton wins the democratic nomination this might just be a win for Mc Cain.

  • fw

    MCCain and ________ the blank should NOT be any of the others running to be the nominee. How about the senator from Nebraska who is also against torture. can´t think of his name right now…

    no one else will get independents and democrats to cross over. if clinton wins the democratic nomination this might just be a win for Mc Cain.

  • Nancy

    My choice would be Thompson/Gingrich. Conservative!!

  • Nancy

    My choice would be Thompson/Gingrich. Conservative!!

  • Ryan

    McCain/Lieberman

    Both strong on War, Vp is a Democrat stealing Independent

  • Ryan

    McCain/Lieberman

    Both strong on War, Vp is a Democrat stealing Independent

  • Hunter Baker

    McCain and Huckabee. With a war on there is simply no one better than McCain to ask the nation to stay the course. Whether you like him or not, he gave literally everything but his life in the service of his country. He also has the great virtue of constancy. Huckabee would be great for keeping evangelicals excited and the man has proven he campaigns as well as any politician in the last generation.

    The big bonus is that those two keep the GOP a pro-life party.

  • Hunter Baker

    McCain and Huckabee. With a war on there is simply no one better than McCain to ask the nation to stay the course. Whether you like him or not, he gave literally everything but his life in the service of his country. He also has the great virtue of constancy. Huckabee would be great for keeping evangelicals excited and the man has proven he campaigns as well as any politician in the last generation.

    The big bonus is that those two keep the GOP a pro-life party.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Somehow “Thompson-Huckabee” comes to mind for me, as it baffles me how Giuliani or Romney can be called a “conservative” in any sane sense of the word. They both presided over very high-tax, high-service, low-liberty jurisdictions, coming down at the time squarely on the wrong side of gun rights and abortion. Romney even increased fees–taxes by another name–in an amount that exceeds Huckabee’s tax increases.

    So if you come from a liberal state, you can act far more liberally and still be called conservative than if you come from a state that’s seen as conservative? Huh?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Somehow “Thompson-Huckabee” comes to mind for me, as it baffles me how Giuliani or Romney can be called a “conservative” in any sane sense of the word. They both presided over very high-tax, high-service, low-liberty jurisdictions, coming down at the time squarely on the wrong side of gun rights and abortion. Romney even increased fees–taxes by another name–in an amount that exceeds Huckabee’s tax increases.

    So if you come from a liberal state, you can act far more liberally and still be called conservative than if you come from a state that’s seen as conservative? Huh?

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    For awhile, my choice had been Thompson/Thompson. Tommy is sitting in Madison, waiting for a phone call.

    Think of it, though. If something happened to the first Thompson, the government wouldn’t have to reprint everything.

    But, as someone has said regarding Thompson/Guiliani, someone would have to wake them up first.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    For awhile, my choice had been Thompson/Thompson. Tommy is sitting in Madison, waiting for a phone call.

    Think of it, though. If something happened to the first Thompson, the government wouldn’t have to reprint everything.

    But, as someone has said regarding Thompson/Guiliani, someone would have to wake them up first.

  • Jay

    It seems as though the two most compatible choices are McCain/Huckabee or Giuliani/Thompson. Not sure either McCain or Giuliani would take the #2 spot.

    I’m not quite sure (after 8 years) how I feel about McCain, but the idea of the Huckster being a heartbeat away from the presidency would sure make me pray for John’s health. Alas, neither one would be particularly right on immigration or taxes — perhaps McCain would be good on spending (Rudy’s weak suit) but not Huckabee.

    I like the idea of McCain/Lieberman — but again, it would be good on foreign affairs but terrible on government regulation.

  • Jay

    It seems as though the two most compatible choices are McCain/Huckabee or Giuliani/Thompson. Not sure either McCain or Giuliani would take the #2 spot.

    I’m not quite sure (after 8 years) how I feel about McCain, but the idea of the Huckster being a heartbeat away from the presidency would sure make me pray for John’s health. Alas, neither one would be particularly right on immigration or taxes — perhaps McCain would be good on spending (Rudy’s weak suit) but not Huckabee.

    I like the idea of McCain/Lieberman — but again, it would be good on foreign affairs but terrible on government regulation.

  • fw

    I repent.

    Can´t vote for MC Cain. He says Iraq should become South Korea and Germany.

    We should envision a base there for the next 100 years.

    In the last five years has this man learned nothing that would persuade him that this 100 year vision is simply not realistic not to mention that we simply cannot afford it no matter what we WANT to do?

    Our power has true practical limits and constraints.

  • fw

    I repent.

    Can´t vote for MC Cain. He says Iraq should become South Korea and Germany.

    We should envision a base there for the next 100 years.

    In the last five years has this man learned nothing that would persuade him that this 100 year vision is simply not realistic not to mention that we simply cannot afford it no matter what we WANT to do?

    Our power has true practical limits and constraints.


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