The Branstad campaign sent out a press release yesterday afternoon announcing that the 63-year old former governor had an elective heart procedure in which a stent was inserted into one of his arteries. Procedures like these are common-place, and Branstad’s doctor says he will be back up to full-speed in a couple of days.
The news of Branstad’s procedure isn’t likely to make a major impact in the Republican primary, but it does add importance to who he selects as his running-mate should he win the nomination next month. Who Branstad would pick was going to be an issue regardless of his health, but this recent incident bring the issue of his potential running-mate to the forefront in the closing days of the primary campaign.
In an interview with James Lynch last week, Branstad indicated that his running-mate would be younger than he is, but did not indicate any sort of age group that he may be targeting. While age is a factor in Branstad’s choice, political ideology should be the deciding factor.
Branstad was the first Iowa governor to be able to select his running-mate. In 1990, he selected Joy Corning, a moderate state senator from Black Hawk County. Following Branstad’s retirement, Corning ran for governor herself in 1998. Corning wasn’t long for the campaign. Branstad didn’t back her bid, and she failed to secure adequate financial support for her campaign. After leaving office, Corning has been vocal supporter of abortion and marriage rights for gay couples.
In the closing days of the campaign, Branstad needs to do something to reassure conservatives that he’s one of them. The best way to squelch some of the concerns that conservatives have would be to announce his running-mate before next month’s primary.
That might be easier said than done. Running-mates typically go through an extensive vetting process, and while Branstad’s campaign might have some people in mind, they might not have the necessary time to finish vetting and announce a final choice.
While Branstad may want his running-mate to be younger than he is, what he really needs to do is assure people that his running-mate will be a solid, full-spectrum conservative. The sooner those assurances come, the more advantageous it will be for the Branstad campaign.
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