Mitt Romney's campaign has made it pretty clear he won't have a running mate like Sarah Palin, one plucked from obscurity with only a couple years in office and little experience with foreign policy. Unfortunately, that describes pretty much all their non-Palin options. While the people frequently named on the veepstakes list are familiar to political reporters and local voters, no one else knows who they are. There's no guarantee they won't say embarrassing things. Take, for instance, Rep. Allen West. Now, in fairness, his fitness as a running mate was primarily floated by fellow YouTube star Herman Cain and Sarah Palin herself. But he demonstrated quite effectively that the temptation to stay inflammatory, ahistorical, and frankly ridiculous things, is near irresistible in the media-addicted wing of the conservative movement. The Florida congressman told Palm City voters Tuesday night that he's "heard" as many as 80 House Democrats are not just socialists, but straight-up members of the Communist Party. The Palm Beach Post reports he did not name any of the commies. Update: West clarified his comments, saying he meant the 75 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, though if you watch the video, he doesn't seem like he's joking.
It's been widely reported that Romney is cautious, and his focus in picking a running mate will be on credibility, instead of whatever politician can win over swing voters and smile real nice on TV. And yet, all of the people named as likely vice-presidential candidates are on those lists because of their theoretical appeal to independents or swing state voters and how relatively telegenic they are. Just like Palin, they're mostly unknown nationally, and will leave voters wondering, "Who are those guys?" And like Palin, most of them have been in office only a couple years. It seems impossible that Romney's eventual "No More Palins" veepstakes committee won't be able to avoid picking someone with a couple Palinesque qualities. Here's our guide to the people on the list. We've used photos from their Facebook pages to give a sense how they'd present themselves.