An Ayotte Vice Presidential pick would be another New Hampshire first
Illustration by Peter Noonan
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has asked a lot of New Hampshire in his quest for the White House. He ran basically non-stop for president here for eight years, even buying a Wolfeboro vacation home. As the Republican presidential nominee he'll ask the state to swing his way, but before that he might ask Granite Staters for one more thing: to give up its U.S. Senator.
Romney's biggest decision this summer is who to pick as his running mate, and pundits say there is a very strong case to be made for New Hampshire's junior Senator, Kelly Ayotte. In fact, a recent ABC News report suggested she was in the top five options for Romney.
New Hampshire has never had a native resident become a nominee to be vice president. Frank Knox, the founder of the Manchester Leader (which came before the merged Union Leader newspaper), was selected as Alf Landon's running mate in 1936, but at the time he lived in Illinois. Henry Wilson actually served as the vice president for President Ulysses Grant. Wilson was born in Farmington, but moved to Massachusetts at a young age and became a Massachusetts Senator.
Ayotte is a loyal Romney supporter who endorsed him when he needed it the most - ahead of the state's presidential primary. The Romney campaign believes her endorsement ended any doubt he would win our first-in-the-nation primary.
Vice presidential nominees can do very little to help a ticket, but they can help win a crucial state. Ayotte has only run one campaign, but she is the state's most popular Republican and New Hampshire's four electoral votes are up for grabs.
Finally, she is a woman. In 2008, John McCain lost women voters to Barack Obama by 13 percentage points. For Romney to win he will need to close that gap as much as possible. Selecting a woman as his running mate is a start.
If Romney picks Ayotte, a fired-up Republican base (hoping to send a Nashua native to be the number two in American government) should drive turnout. As a result, Republicans would be more likely to win the open governor's race, both seats in Congress and majorities in the Statehouse.
It would also mean that the state would have an open US Senate seat to fill. By law the sitting governor would fill the vacancy, but the state would have a wild year in 2014 when it would elect two US Senators.
If selected, Ayotte will be an instant national political figure just three years after she gave her first political stump speech. If the ticket wins, Ayotte becomes a heartbeat away from the presidency. If the Romney ticket loses, Ayotte is the instant frontrunner for the presidential nomination itself in 2016. And if that happens then, on the 100-year anniversary of the first New Hampshire Primary, the contest will be rendered irrelevant because we'll have one of our own running.