Are GOP Voters Keen on Condi Rice? Portman, Rubio Also Draw Praise

Yahoo Contributor Network

Condi, Condi, Condi.

That's all veepstakes aficionados are hearing -- this week, at least.

Drudge led with it. Rush Limbaugh covered it extensively. Even Sarah Palin, the erstwhile VP candidate herself, said Condoleezza Rice would be "wonderful."

But for all the talk, Limbaugh said on Friday: "If I may be blunt, I don't care who the veep is."

Still, do voters care? Yahoo! News asked a handful of GOP voters across the country to weigh in with their favorite VP picks. Not surprisingly, Rice topped a lot of lists -- perhaps because the grist in the rumor mill planted the idea. Or perhaps she's a legitimate choice for many.

Below are some excerpts from what Republicans wrote, in their own words:

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Romney-Portman would be the ticket to beat: Romney should ask Ohio Sen. Rob Portman to be his running mate. Ohio is an important battleground state Romney needs to win to be elected president. Portman does have plenty of experience in Washington, having been a congressman for six terms, serving in two cabinet-level posts for George W. Bush and then getting elected to the Senate. As head of the Office of Management and Budget and as the U.S. trade representative, he should know how to manage business, and that is something that I think is lacking in D.C. right now.

For me, the goal of the administration must be to get America back on top and having a thriving business environment is one way to achieve that goal.

An alternative -- less appealing to me -- would be Rick Santorum. He performed very well during the primaries and connected with a wide swath of voters, although he is too conservative for me. He might aid Romney in winning Pennsylvania, another key state, and solidify the conservative vote.

-- Morris Armstrong, Connecticut

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Best VP pick for Romney? Rice fulfills a lot of needs: Prior candidates often made a vice presidential pick that balances the ticket geographically, bringing in a state or region the candidate needs to win to secure the electoral college victory. JFK had LBJ, a Texan. An excellent choice for Mitt Romney might be Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.

Can Portman, however, deliver Ohio? That is far from definitive, though Ohio is clearly a state Romney must win.

Sen. John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin was a bid to energize the ticket. What about a person of color? Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has been traveling on behalf of the Romney campaign. Both a minority and a woman? Media reports, beginning with the Drudge Report, have focused considerable attention on Condi Rice. She's an African-American Southerner, foreign-policy expert with experience, and an academic living and working in California.

It might be a brilliant, game-changing selection.

-- Jennifer Morrison, Ohio

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell ideal pick for Romney: My preference for Romney's vice president is Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia. Rumored on the short list of choices, the affable McDonnell has already campaigned with the GOP nominee to swing his critical home state, which President Obama captured in 2008.

The 58-year-old has served as Virginia's governor since 2010 and used an aggressive "Bob's For Jobs" platform to gain national prominence. While cutting spending, McDonnell has reduced unemployment in Virginia, while such figures stagnate throughout America. Jobs must be central to Romney's platform and McDonnell is a bold leader on the subject.

Prior to his election as governor, McDonnell was attorney general of Virginia and a member of its state legislature. His track record in these roles is strong and would rally the base by appealing to both social and economic conservatives.

McDonnell additionally adds a military background to the ticket, which the nominee lacks. Possessing a biography that campaigns love to promote, the governor is married for 35 years with five children, one of whom served in the Iraq War.

-- Jeff Briscoe, Florida

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For VP? Rice is the dream, but Portman should be the reality: As a GOP voter, here are three I'd favor, though Sen. Rob Portman is my top choice:

Rob Portman: Some say the Ohio senator is a bit too buttoned-up to be the vice president to someone like Romney. But the GOP needs to show it is taking the race seriously by putting up a serious candidate. Portman is an extremely popular senator, and as the former director of the OMB, he could show Romney how to change government from the inside. He could also deliver Ohio, an ultra important swing state.

Brian Sandoval: If Portman turns the job down, or isn't sexy enough for the Romney campaign, then their second choice should be the Nevada governor. Sandoval isn't well known, but he's considered a rising star. He would help Romney when it comes to the Hispanic vote and he doesn't have the stigma that a Marco Rubio would bring.

Mary Fallin: Fallin is an incredibly popular governor of Oklahoma. Obviously, Romney is going to win Oklahoma, so he's not aided there, but he's getting beaten badly in the women's vote. Fallin could help big time here, and while she's sometimes compared to Sarah Palin, there are distinct differences that would allow independents and undecided voters feel like they aren't siding with someone as polarizing as Palin.

-- Bo Vandy, Nebraska

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Rice would be the logical choice as Romney's running mate: While I wouldn't mind Romney picking Tim Pawlenty or Bob McDonald, I have to be honest: They will not energize independents enough to help Romney win. To me, there is one clear choice for Romney if he really wants to win the presidency: Condoleezza Rice.

The prospect that a well-qualified and well-respected woman could be one heartbeat away from the presidency is exciting. With the very fluid and tense situations developing in the Middle East, South America and Asia, Rice may well be the one person with the background and experience to protect American interests in all of these regions. She brings diversity to Romney's campaign. While I do not like the "race card" being played in politics and would like everyone to judge people by the content of their character rather than their cultural or racial backgrounds, the truth of the matter is that our country hasn't progressed past this point.

Growing up in the South during segregation, Rice has had to deal with issues that neither Romney nor Obama has dealt with; she is perhaps one of the few who could speak to this division in our country and help to move the national conversation forward toward healing.

-- Lyn Brooks, Virginia

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Dull Romney needs a passionate, persuasive veep: Cathy McMorris Rodgers is a perfect pick for the ticket.

Rep. Rodgers, R-Wash., is female and Christian -- two key demographics Romney must make a stronger appeal to. Rogers has served in the House since 2005 and sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee. She has a reputation of being a fiscal conservative, which could very well satisfy the far right and tea party. Immensely popular in her home state of Washington, Rodgers grew up on a farm, which provides a stark contrast to the wealth of Mitt Romney which has been so hotly debated in recent weeks. While name recognition will present some challenges for her, Rodgers is charismatic and well known on the West Coast.

Her biggest asset may be her youth -- McMorris is 43. Republicans have stalled among the youth in recent years and she could very well reverse that trend.

-- Robert Watkins, Pennsylvania

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Rumors aside, Rice is a solid Romney running mate choice: Here are my top three picks and how I feel they can add to the ticket.

Condoleezza Rice: My No. 1 pick is the same pick I wanted last year. She was arguably one of the most popular secretaries of state of our time, and she brings a solid eight years of White House-level foreign policy experience. She could also attract female and African-American voters; 95 percent of the latter voted for President Barack Obama in 2008.

Marco Rubio: If Rice doesn't get the nod, my second choice is Sen. Rubio of Florida. He is a tea party favorite who would bring much-needed conservative enthusiasm to the ticket. He has proven time and again he will speak his mind and not shy away to be "politically correct." That attitude is loved by conservative who want a straight-talk attitude. He is also Hispanic and from Florida, one of the more important swing states that gave President Bush the win in 2000.

Allen West: My third choice is West, an Iraq War veteran with strong foreign policy experience. He has solid conservative credentials, and is the strongest and safest of the top three. He would undoubtedly be a good vice president, and he'd be able to take minority and conservative votes away from President Obama.

-- Alexander Cintron, New Jersey

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Best Romney VP choices: Rubio, then Jindal: As a conservative, I am a little bit worried about the possibility of Condoleezza Rice as a running mate for Mitt Romney. I would like to see Romney choose either Florida Sen. Marco Rubio or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as vice presidential candidates.

While many former secretaries of state have gone on to be outstanding presidents, I believe the association to George Bush's presidency is a hindrance to Rice and will not help Romney. Her appeal to the female and African-American vote might not be enough to pull moderate, independent voters away from President Barack Obama.

My first choice: Rubio. Despite his youth, he has been a very active and public member of the Senate. He co-sponsored legislation to repeal Obamacare, is vocal on the economic crisis and he looks for change through growth. Plus, he'd give the campaign a charismatic figure, new energy, help gain votes in the Hispanic community and create excitement among young voters.

-- William Porter, Indiana

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Outside-the-box thinking: Ron Paul as Romney's VP: My first choice for Mitt Romney's GOP running mate is, hands down, Ron Paul. The Texas representative is the only candidate who can target a growing demographic of voters like me who do not fit into the status quo GOP box.

He is, for me and many others, a beacon of hope for small government with less involvement and control over our day-to-day lives. His sound fiscal policies, such as auditing the Federal Reserve and desire for less claustrophobic regulations, are also extremely appealing.

Many Republicans balk at Paul's high-minded ideals in terms of foreign policy and restructuring and shrinking the federal government. Running as the GOP's vice presidential nominee would put him in a position where his platforms would not seem as "all or nothing" as they might on a presidential platform. Also, by giving Paul the nomination for vice president, it would prevent a potentially damage party split -- were Paul to run as an independent candidate, hurting Romney in the process.

-- Kathleen Ann, New York

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My pick for Mitt's VP? The seemingly unwilling Chris Christie: My favorite pick for Mitt Romney's VP is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. As a stay-at-home mother, I am focused more on economic issues. A better economy would benefit my household, and Christie has worked economic wonders here in New Jersey.

"He might be able to convince me," Christie told a group of students in April. "He's a convincing guy, but I really love this job. I really want to stay in this job."

Should Christie not be picked -- or decline -- two alternates would be fine:

The presence of Olympia Snowe, a Republican senator from Maine, on the ticket could lessen accusations of the "war on women" lodged against the GOP.

Ron Paul could help Romney secure independent voters and the youth vote. His message of less government and more power to the states could help Romney.

-- Arrivanna Brooks, New Jersey

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