Bob Novak, the highly distinguished veteran columnist and author, told the American Spectator New York dinner group last night that John McCain will defeat Barack Obama in November’s election, although the Democrats will enhance their majorities in both the Senate and the House. Novak, who has covered elections for fifty years, speculated that McCain will pick former Ohio congressman Rob Portman (who also was President Bush’s special trade representative and OMB director) as his running mate, while Obama could choose former Sen. Sam Nunn as his.
On Portman, Novak said he’s young, will pass the conservative spell check, and can stand up in a debate. Our speaker also told us that the GOP has stumbled into the exact right candidate this year in McCain. Regarding McCain’s tax-cut proposals, Novak thinks they are real, and that cutting the corporate tax rate, as McCain has proposed, should be much more important to observers than the candidate’s occasional corporate and Wall Street bashing.
Novak also believes Obama’s gaffes about bitter small-town people who cling to guns and religion will be an absolute killer in the general election. So will the Jeremiah Wright business, and more generally Obama’s extreme, across-the-board, liberal-left positions.
Hm. Would certainly be a surprise choice. And one that may have a material chance if Novak is talking publicly about it. The problem with Portman is that he has virtually NO name recognition except amongst the real political junkies. For a candidate who's likely in an uphill climb he won't get much bounce out of Rob Portman. May be less important if Hillary is the head of ticket but Obama near rock-star status [at least in the MSM] and the likelihood that he may choose a conservative Democratic foreign policy 'statesman', e.g., Sam Nunn, makes a McCain/Portman ticket pale at first blush.
A real maverick pick (don't see it but could be interesting) would be Robert Rubin. Rubin is smart, a finance guru, served impressively in his stint as Secretary of the Treasury and his recent comments on the subprime crisis and Hank Paulson have been intelligent and well reasoned. Why it won't happen - primarily because Rubin may not be interested, he (70) doesn't balance McCain's age and concern that conservatives may howl.