Now that Mittens Romney has basically locked this thang up, it's time for him to suss out the best possible (read: least Palin-esque) running mate for the remainder of the 2012 campaign.
Until Election Night this November, we can't know for certain who will serve as Vice President of the United States from 2013 through 2017. Sure, we can place bets (hint: it's going to be Joe Biden) but there's no way we can be absolutely positive until the votes are cast and counted. Here's a brief, lady issues-focused primer to three of the folks who have a decent shot at second-in-command.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
Bio: Tea Party favorite Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley would be a threefer for the Republicans -- at 40, she's the youngest governor in the United States; as an Indian-American, she's a member of a non-terrifying-to-old-whites model minority; and as a gal, she's, well, a lady.
She served in the South Carolina House of Representatives for five years prior to her 2010 election as Governor of the Palmetto State. She's got the whole American Dream thing going on, with two Sikh immigrant parents and a mother who built a clothing empire. And she was born in South Carolina, so she's a bona fide Southern belle.
Lady stuff: As for her positions on lady issues, Haley was a co-sponsor of South Carolina's Cervical Cancer Prevention Act, which would mandate HPV vaccines for girls, but later voted to kill the bill when she grew concerned an opt-out provision would not be included. An out-and-proud pro-lifer, Haley has supported a requirement that women considering an abortion be required to view an ultrasound of their uterus and that a mandatory 24-hour waiting period be enforced between said ultrasound viewing and the termination of pregnancy.
However, in a surprisingly liberal move, she'd make an exception to the 24-hour waiting period for victims of rape. Isn't that nice? You're welcome.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
Bio: First and obviously most importantly: Dude rides a motorcycle. He was elected in 2004 and was formerly a Big Pharma exec over at Eli Lilly, the folks who brought you (and me, thank God) Prozac. He served as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush. A fiscal conservative who seems to walk the talk, Daniels has made budget reform and management a big focus of his tenure as governor.
Little-known fact: Pennsylvania-born Daniels is the grandson of Christian Arab-American immigrants from Syria. Last year, he even won a public service award from the Arab American Institute. No telling how that will play with the party faithful, but it's an interesting tidbit nevertheless.
And here is an exciting fact: He's made no secret of his 1970 arrest, indictment and conviction at Princeton University for possession of marijuana, LSD and prescription drugs (without a prescription). He was fined $350, which in modern dollars is $15,000,000,000. It's sad that I'm actually wondering if his Arab heritage or his drug history will pose a bigger problem for Republican voters.
Lady stuff: Daniels calls himself "a reliable advocate of the right to life" and supports the right of pharmacists who oppose emergency birth control to refuse to dispense it. Unlike America's Boyfriend, Rick Santorum, Daniels supports the right to an abortion in the case of rape, incest, or the endangerment of the life of the mother. Because those are the only possible reasons a pregnancy might be an unbearable burden rather than a joyful miracle.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Bio: The self-professed fiscal conservative governor of my beloved home state of New Jersey is even more Eye-talian than I am, and I can say with some authority that at least one member of his family calls him "Christufuh" a la Drea deMatteo on "The Sopranos."
Born and raised in the Dirty Jerz, former state D.A. Christie leads a state that was recently named the least corrupt in the nation by a rather controversial study (I'm really just shouting it out here because it gave me a little thrill of pride, even though its methods are suspect). He was elected in 2009. Back in 2000 when he was a top fundraiser for then-Governor George W. Bush, the future president nicknamed him "Big Boy."
Lady stuff: Christie is pro-life with exceptions for rape, incest and the endangerment of the life of the mother. Sigh. That seems to be about as "progressive" as this crop of VP candidates gets.
Obviously, this is just a wee little taste of each potential candidate, not an in-depth analysis. It's an amuse-bouche, if you will, to tantalize you for a conversation that I hope takes place in the comments.
Here's the deal: Ladies (and gents) from Indiana, New Jersey, and South Carolina, please weigh in with your experience of life under Governors Haley, Christie or Daniels. Would you want to see your guy (or gal) in the national spotlight? Are there Haley-, Daniels- or Christie-related stories the mainstream national media has missed that you feel ought to be explored further? To the non-Indianans, New Jerseyans and South Carolinians: Which of these three would make the most viable vice presidential candidate? And feel free to throw in your two cents on why Romney ought to pick someone else altogether -- for example, Marco Rubio or Bobby Jindal. Let's GOP VP chat it up!