When the dust settles on the presidential nominating process, Mitt Romney may need Sonny Perdue as his vice presidential nominee.
If former Massachusetts Gov. Romney doesn’t survive the GOP primary cut, then VP-nominee Perdue could prove to be an asset to, say, Rudy Giuliani, the liberal, thrice-wed former mayor of New York and current frontrunner in the Republican presidential polls.
If John McCain’s campaign catches fire again, the senator may send for Sonny.
And Gov. Perdue stands ready to answer the call. As we have said before, Sonny would like to run as vice president in 2008. If it weren’t for the nuisance of vetting, the governor might be a near perfect choice as a running mate.
Right now, the GOP’s voting strength is centered in the South among evangelicals, yet the party does not have a Southerner or evangelical in its present-day leadership lineup. Sonny could easily fill the slot. He’s an Old South politician who wears his religion on his sleeve.
In many ways Sonny looks a heck of a lot better than, say, Dan Quayle or even Dick Cheney. Consider this:
— Perdue is governor of one of the fastest-growing states. He recently began establishing a presence outside Georgia when he tried to secure more federal money for PeachCare, the state’s health-care program for children. Though Perdue’s efforts were largely unsuccessful, his staff made a big deal of the governor’s personal plea to Congress.
— Perdue is chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and several of his aides hold administrative posts in the RGA. Romney and Perdue became close while Perdue served as RGA vice chairman during Romney’s tenure as chairman last year.
— In 2002 Perdue ended 130 years of Democratic rule in Georgia with his election as the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. Perdue won a second term easily in 2006. Perdue’s victories gave him unassailable credentials for inclusion on the national Republicans’ A-list of political comers.
— Dan McLagan, the governor’s spokesman, brings a ton of national experience to Sonny’s operation. McLagan worked in McCain’s failed presidential campaign in 2000 and in Sen. Lamar Alexander’s White House bid in 1996.
There’s more, but before we get carried away constructing Sonny’s vice presidential profile, let’s not forget the Vetters — the grim and inquisitive team that check out the background of any potential U.S. vice president.
Just imagine how vetters might approach Sonny and what they might ask:
* “Gov. Perdue, please furnish our investigators with your tax returns — for the last 20 years — with all schedules. Please furnish us records of all your companies, whether publicly disclosed or not. And, oh yes, we need a list of your wife’s companies. With details.”
* “Tell us about the Florida land deal. You remember that, don’t you? You paid $2 million for a piece of property near Disney World that the local tax assessor says is worthless. Explain what that was all about. The deal could come up during the campaign. Some Democrat is bound to mention ‘tax dodge.’”
* “We need a few more details on Oaky Woods. Please clarify your position on buying land next to the Oaky Woods hunting preserve. You tried to keep your name from being directly connected to the purchase, isn’t that right? Tell us about turning down the Nature Conservancy’s offer to buy Oaky Woods as a state-managed nature preserve and about your pals purchasing the property as a site for thousands of new homes. As we understand it, your Oaky Woods property more than doubled in value. Congratulations, Governor! That was a shrewd move.”
* “Now, let’s see. There was something else. Could you tell us quickly about that special bill in the Legislature — the one introduced by your personal lawyer — that let you defer more than $100,000 in capital gains taxes? We need all the details we can get.”
* “For national campaign purposes, we also should review your 2000 campaign for governor and how you promised to restore the Confederate battle emblem to the state flag. That’s a good issue down South, but it gets a little ticklish elsewhere. We also should learn more about your education policies. Democrats are certain to make issues of billion-dollar cuts in school programs and higher education. As we’re certain you know, negative TV spots could make national voters wonder about our party’s education commitment. …
“You see where this is going, don’t you, governor? If you want to take a couple of days to determine whether you really want to continue with these questions, that will be fine. We will certainly understand and honor your wishes, no matter what you decide. As you know, if you’re chosen as the vice presidential candidate, the national media will be swarming all over Georgia trying to dig up dirt. We don’t want to be blindsided, and we know that you don’t want you or your state to be embarrassed.”
You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA 30160, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.